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Places To Visit : Gardens : Trerice


Kestle Mill, Nr Newquay TR8 4PG
T: 01637 875404

Trerice is by no means your average garden and I wouldn’t suggest you should go there just for the plants, however go you certainly should! The garden comes with the house as an historic monument; so rich in history it makes my spine positively tingle. Trerice has been in the Arundell family for 13 generations over about 400 years; imagine that! And it was one of the Arundells who was responsible for bringing back from Holland the earliest example in England of curved gables which can be seen on the front of the house. The Arundells were a very wealthy family and quite ostentatious one can see an example of their wealth through the number and size of the windows (in Tudor times having windows was a sign of riches). The house was sold to the Acland family in 1802, changing hands several times before it was finally acquired by the National Trust in 1953.

Trerice Trerice - Picture 1 Trerice - Picture 2 Trerice - Picture 3 Trerice - Picture 4 Trerice - Picture 5

Tam who is the Head Gardener welcomed me, and she runs this very important ‘playground’ together with her band of very jolly and wonderful volunteers. I am told there is a plan over the next 5 – 10 years to run archaeological and geo-physical surveys to find out more about how the garden might have been and help the National Trust develop the garden generally.

We started in what was once a formal Tudor Garden with raised terraces but is now planted with many trees of old varieties of fruit, and is known unsurprisingly as the Orchard. It is thought that once upon a time there would have been a sunken garden here which formed a perfect square and would have been precisely planted. The Tudor’s believed that achieving geometrical, planting and pruning perfection in the garden would bring them closer to God. 

Alongside the fruit trees is a formal walled garden with a blue and white border and it is a beautiful place in which to sit and contemplate the world. Plants here include Anemone X hybrida ‘Whirlwind’ and Campanula lactiflora ‘Superba’

As you walk to the front of the house from the orchard you will see that the garden is in fact formed by three terraces. The first terrace consisted of what was once the Tudor garden and now is the Orchard as described above. The second terrace is the Front Court with a path leading up to the house in between lawns and flower borders which contain unusual plants, shrubs and climbers in Purple and Gold colours such as Cotinus coggygria ‘Royal Purple’ and Burberis thumbergii ‘Aurea’ and Euonymous fortuneii ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold.  However this part of the garden was once paved or cobbled, and it is thought here that the men of the neighbourhood were drilled during the early times of the Civil War c1642.  In the 1950’s the National Trust in their wisdom decided it would look better how it is now laid out and grassed over and although not quite suited to the period of the house, is very charming. The top terrace is the Kayling lawn (in case you are not familiar with the term Kayling - and I admit that I was ignorant of it until I came to Trerice - it is Ten Pin Bowls in its earliest form. Most people think bowling originated in America – not so – Kayling has a very long and established European history and was certainly an extremely popular pastime in the Tudor period.  When you come to Trerice you can have a game on the Kayling lawn underneath the trees! Before you reach the Kayling lawn you will find the Long Walk another beautiful stretch which is planted to give year round interest – Euphorbia X  martinii and Euphorbia amydaloides ‘Purpurea’; Lavandula angustifolia ‘Munstead’, Calendula officinalis  (which look superb with the lavender); Geranium renardii and Geranium tuberosum; Fuchsia ‘Chillerton Beauty’….and on to the Kayling lawn.

Trerice has always been a place for the people (evidence of this is apparent with the Tithe Barn, which is now the restaurant, and was once probably buzzing with the locals at Harvest time who came to sort the wheat from the chaff, literally)! Behind the barn is an award winning Tudor vegetable garden which is an educational project. St Newlyn East School come here to learn how to grow plants from seed. And indeed have constructed, with the help of an engineer, a water mill which is used to water the garden (it is situated in the spot where there would have once been a wheel which pumped water from a leat). (The Wheel has now moved to the school).

Trerice is very family friendly and there is much to do for all;  for example in the Great Hall visitors can try on armour and chainmail, and have a go at banging drums and playing Tudor instruments in the musicians gallery. There is also Brass Rubbing, and there is a Tudor Maze (something the kids all love as well as their mums and dads!) and don’t forget Kayling.

Trerice being Elizabethan in origin is an oasis of history stretching back over the generations and whilst it has seen many comings and goings it still retains most of the original features both in the house and garden of all those years ago. If you have not yet been to Trerice then you certainly should put a date in your diary; the children will have a lot of fun, and there is so much for them to learn through play.