Lost Gardens of Heligan

Published: 2020-09-24 / Author: Merchant House

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A real-life secret garden, the Lost Gardens of Heligan were left forgotten and untouched for nearly seven decades.

One of the most mysterious and magical estates in the UK, Frances Hodgson Burnett would have been left wide-eyed betwixt the luscious sprawl of the Lost Gardens of Heligan. A real-life secret garden, this beautiful oasis was abandoned after the outbreak of World War One and left untouched for 70 years.

Seat of the Tremayne family for nearly 400 years, this beautiful pocket of Cornwall was extensively developed between 1766 and 1914 and carefully nourished and maintained. Home to all manner of wonderful plant-life both local and exotic, the gardens thrived with towering pines, foreign species and buxom rhododendrons bursting with colour. From the sun-kissed corners of Italy to the wind-scoured heights of the Himalayas, the gardens were a gateway into extraordinary worlds.

With a Japanese Garden, Italian Garden, Flower Garden and Sundial Garden (that in 1896 was described as having “the finest herbaceous border in England”) and more, Heligan’s expansive grounds were a hub of activity. Beautifully wild and wildly beautiful, they continued to flourish until a sudden and tragic derailment came in the form of World War One. With the gardens’ Shelterbelt trees cut for the war effort and much of its workforce enlisted, the gardens were eventually abandoned.

All but forgotten, the Lost Gardens of Heligan were left to the tangled hands of time for decades. Held hostage by seas of brambles and ivy, it remained in a subdued state of slumber until 1990, when this regal Sleeping Beauty was rediscovered by Tim Smit and John Willis, a descendant of the Tremayne family. Becoming Europe’s largest garden restoration project and an extreme labour of love, the gardens were opened to the public in 1992 and have, bit by bit, been restored to their former glory.

30 years after it was rediscovered, these days the Lost Gardens of Heligan are one of the most famous visitor attractions in England. Only 14 miles from Merchant House Hotel in Truro, the gardens are recognised around the globe for their stunning collection of Camellias and Rhododendrons, as well as the numerous sub-gardens and pathways. From the restored Kitchen Garden, walled Flower Garden and Melon Yard to the Pleasure Grounds and Jungle, there is more than enough to see to keep you visiting year after year.

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Customer Reviews


Great hotel, really friendly and helpful staff giving a warm welcome. Superb quiet and comfortable room with spotlessly clean ensuite bathroom.

Easy free parking and good quality Wi-Fi. Continental breakfast was very good, fresh fruit and a good cereal selection. Excellent coffee!

Many thanks.

Simon M - UK

Lovely room and super friendly staff, pleasent location with only a short walk down hill to the town.

Spotlessly clean and good Covid measures in place. Tea coffee supplied as you need it and towels available on the landing as required if you need more than supplied in the room.

Highly recommended.

222gavinr- UK
Very comfortable stay

My wife and I stayed one night in this hotel while touring in Cornwall. It could not have been a better choice for us. The staff were very welcoming and helpful, and the room had a huge king size bed (wider than length) in a very comfortable room. Despite being on a main arterial road into Truro centre, it was very quiet at night and we could sleep with the window open. 10min walk into the town centre that has a wide range of restaurants, shops and facilities, although it seemed like a 20min walk back up the hill to the hotel! Good range of food for breakfast too. No dining facilities otherwise, but the hotel supports guests ordering take-aways if wanted.

barrystuart2017 - Bedford, UK
Truly an old fashioned customer based warm welcome

From the point of walking in the door the welcome was truly felt, nothing was to much trouble. Our dog was met with the same greeting and even had his very own welcome pack, there is a pet friendly walking area, a dog shower and towels to dry your pooch.

As for us humans, we were able to bring in and eat our takeaway in the dining area, hotel plates and cutlery was provided. The bed was amazingly comfortable, the shower room was spotless, all in all I would highly recommend this hotel and will definitely stay again if I'm down this way again.

V8820MTkathyc - Clayton, UK
Gem of a place

We arrived with our Cockerpoo Parker to a very friendly welcome. Our room was clean and to a high standard although compact.One nice touch was they provided a fan as the weather was warm. Everything you wished for appeared to be catered for. We were amazed at all the lovely touches and facilities there were for dogs. You could even order take aways and eat in the lounge if you wished although Truro offers quite a few doggy friendly places to eat. There was also a bar. Breakfast was delicious too. We’d definitely be back we loved our stay thank you.

Alijon1 - Benfleet, UK
Friendly and welcoming

I really enjoyed my stay at the Merchant House. The single room was clean and big enough. We stayed four nights and the system put in place during the pandemic, made me feel comfortable and well looked after.

Staff were welcoming, friendly and very helpful. They wore masks when serving breakfast and had a great system in place for social distancing. Facilities were great. A fridge downstairs and a packed breakfast if you're leaving really early, was a great idea.

I will be going back, it's lovely and comfortable. A great base for when you're travelling all over Cornwall.

Caroline B - London, UK

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Merchant House Hotel

49 Falmouth Road, Truro, Cornwall

Tel: +44 (0)1872 272450