Tremough Estate Penryn – Part 1

Over the last few years it has become somewhat of a preconception that the Tremough Estate is out of bounds for locals and visitors to enjoy. This is far from true and head gardener David Garwood is working hard with staff and organisations to restore as much of the garden as possible for us all to enjoy.

The history of Tremough is both extensive and fascinating and worth researching when time permits. It’s owners, inhabitants and grounds have and continue to play a central and important role in shaping the town. We thought we would give you a brief overview to get you started and entice you to take a walk up  there when you visit Penryn.

I say brief but actually there is so many great bits to share, the entire blog post comes in parts!… is…..

Part 1

Tremough House is a Grade II listed building at the centre of the Tremough Estate in Penryn. Over three centuries the house and estate have evolved from a private home, boys school, a convent and on to the University that we see in Penryn today.

The original house was built in the 18th Century by John Worth. The H plan, symmetrical facade and avenue of lime trees remains a distinctive feature of his families time at Tremough. Built to promote his position of Sheriff of Cornwall and somewhere to hold lavish social gatherings Tremough House soon became the centre of many activities in Penryn. Sadly subsequent heirs to the Worth fortunes displayed less self-control, and respect for their parents hard-earned money and status resulting in the house being re-mortgaged and finally sold by the end of the Century.

It is a great possibility that Tremough’s history for being a centre for learning stems from a chance suggestion made by a member of the Fox family to a teacher who had recently moved to the area at the turn of the 19th Century.

Benjamin Barwis, his wife and nine children moved to Falmouth from London and after being informed of the need for education in the area set about securing the lease for Tremough. Soon after the, ‘Tremough Academy for Young Gentlemen’, was started. I am guessing Mr Barwis didn’t need to look far for students with nine already living at the house. The academy moved from the estate after a few years to a house on the outskirts of Penryn and became known as the, ‘Belle Vue Academy’.

The state then passed to John Tilly a Packet Ships captain forced to resign after being caught smuggling. A private home once again the grounds were developed as Tilly developed his interest in agriculture and gardening. Tilly passed away in 1843 leaving the estate to their son Tobias and his family. Tilly’s wife Onora continued to live on in the mansion until her deah in 1858. Shortly after her death the  family estate was sold.

Some attribute the sudden sale to Tobias’s financle investment in the development of the new rail link from London to Falmouth one of many projects he was passionate about. A well respected attorney who was proactive in the creation of Falmouth Docks, Tobias strongly believed that a rail line linking to the capital was essential in the economic progress of the Docks and Falmouth.

The estate was passed on Benjamin Sampson who inherited his fortune from his uncle Benjamin Sampson Senior. It was with this fortune that the younger Sampson purchased and renovated Tremough creating the familiar features and characteristics you will see today. The spectacular entrance, long drive, the upper terrace and Italianate garden can all be credited to the lavish taste and spending of Benjamin Sampson during the nineteenth century. It was during his tenancy that the walled garden was transformed from kitchen garden to one more in-keeping with the young spend thrift exquisite taste, an, ‘exotic pleasure ground’. It is during this time the first of many rhododendrons began to appear thus leading the estate on a path toward international recognition for establishing one of the best rhododendron collections in the world.

A relentless socialite Benjamin was eventually reigned in by his lawyer William Shilson who took control of his spending. It was to William, whom became a close friend to Benjamin over the years, that the estate was left when Benjamin died at 47 after his wife and child.

It would be William that continued to develop the estates floral gardens and introduce species from all over the world.

Tremough Estate Gardens continues in Part 2.

Posted in Things To Do In & Around Penryn.


  1. It’s great to see the story of Tremough being promoted and it’s completely accurate that we welcome the community to come along and enjoy the grounds.
    The story of Tremough, though,begins way back before the manor house was built. The area has been known as Tremough ever since records began, around the 11th century, and it’s fair to assume that it has been Tremough for a lot longer than that.
    Lovely pictures of the grounds, Pip.

    • Thanks for this extra info David. I admit perhaps I was focussing more on the existence of the House. I appreciate the land was used long before the house. Maybe I will try and include more of this info Part 2. I am really pleased you like the post and images as I am in no doubt you know the place inside and out!. Hope you enjoy part 2 just as much! Pip 🙂

  2. I am very interested in the Tremough Estate Penryn Part 1. I was a pupil at Tremough when it was a Convent. I have watched in interest, the alterations to it becoming a University. I have not been back to see it lately because I do not know if it would be allowed. The house itself is a lovely building but I believe that this is the only building left intact. I thoroughly enjoyed my schooling there and was sorry to leave but it gave me a good education and living in Mabe, it did not take me very long to walk down the back lane to school. I hope the name Tremough Campus is kept because it adds more interest than calling it Penryn Campus and it could destroy the very interesting history surrounding Tremough. Jill Fox

    • Hello Jill, the grounds are open for you to explore however I believe the walled garden is only open at certain times of the day. I grew up on the Penryn/Falmouth border LOL, (Hillhead) and have some very fond memories of the convent school and nuns! The history of the estate is fascinating, and I hope to provide some more fascinating info in Part 2. I will find out when the walled garden is open for you for future reference. So pleased you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by. Pip.

  3. Please leave some things as they were meant to be it should be about the locals to there is nothing wrong whatsoever in it’s present name don’t change everything

    • Thanks for the lovely comment Kate. It looks as though you share the same sentiments as many locals, past residents and visitors to the wonderful estate.

  4. Thanks Pip for a very interesting article. I recently took a walk around the gardens for the first time and am looking forward to visiting again Would it be OK to replicate your article in the St Gluvias parish magazine please? I will of course give credit to the website as its source.

    • Hi Chris, so glad you enjoyed it. Yes it is beautiful up there and certainly one of my family’s favourite places to explore. Tremough has been a very big part of my life for years. I had friends who attended the convent school so I spent some great afternoons there, I studied there and now I enjoy exploring the grounds with my children.
      Please do share it and I hope it inspires a few more people to go up and enjoy it. Let me know where I can get a copy of the Parish Magazine please. I will enjoy reading your local news too.
      Look out for Part 2 coming soon! Regards Pip.

      • Many thanks Pip. The magazines are sold at the Church but each month a copy also goes to the library and the town hall.

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