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!…..here is…..
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.