Trewidden Gardens
Photos by Sandra, Bryn & George Pritchard



Dedicated to Doss Rowett, nee Maddern of Australia, whose Great-Grandfather, George Maddern 1824 - 1894 was head gardener on the estate. Two sons, George H & William Edward worked with him . George H.  became head  gardener after his father retired  whilst William emigrated to Australia. The Maddern family, together with their many staff were responsible for the early plantings in the  gardens.

Trewidden :   Cornish tre + wyn  = white or fair. Pronounced Tr'-wid'n;

1292:  1451 : 1668 :  Written as "Trewen " in various documents and leases  relating to Madron parish. It first  appears as a place-name & house on Nordens map of the Penwith Hundred  produced in the 1600's. The spelling is difficult to decipher but looks to be Teeu-ryn. This spelling may well have resulted from Nordens interpretation of what he heard. This map also shows that the land at that time was  in the ownership of the  Thoms family. 

The Ordnance Survey map of 1809 shows it as Trewidden but only as a place name. However , the house was built before the time of Edward Bolitho's first marriage in 1830 and it is probable that he moved there then. The dwellings and estate named Trewidden were recorded in some detail  for  the tithe apportionment valuation  in  1839- 1840.  Edward Bolitho  was certainly responsible for the 1848 additions and improvements and his  intention may have been  to make the building  look like it  had gradually evolved over time

The house  is Grade 11 listed, as are the  head gardener's cottage & lodge. The garden & grounds cover 37acres,  south sloping set 270 ft above sea level. The ground is metamorphosed Mylor slate with a covering of acid soil. The average rainfall is 45-50", temperature zone C.

The impressive drive from the lodge entrance climbs some 150 feet  for most of the 500 yards  of its course between old stone Cornish hedges now topped by camellias plantings. The garden was first  listed in the Horticultural Directory of  1889, under the name of Edward Bolitho, and continued after his death, in 1890, until 1924 under Thomas Bedford Bolitho.

 George Maddern 1824-1894 was the first head gardener followed by his son  George H Maddern. The first George Maddern  became well enough known to merit an obituary in the Gardeners' Chronicle upon his death in 1894, since he had been "for a period of forty-five years gardener to the Bolitho family at Trewidden, and during that long time he carried out great alterations and improvements in the garden, one of the prettiest in the west of England."

It is believed  in the area known as "The Burrows" that Trewidden had   one of the  earliest tin working sites. These depressions were probably open-cast mining pits and in the nursery yard are two cast -iron bowls which may have been used for purifying the tin extracted.

The  Fern Pit has utilized part of these workings for what is claimed to be the best grouping of Dicksonia antarctica [Tree Ferns] in the Northern Hemisphere.   Charles Williams of Caerhays, who had married Thomas Bedford's daughter Mary, was tempted to grow the large leaf rhododendrons in some of the shallower pits  as he felt it was an ideal position for them. There is a lovely quote from him in  1927, alluding to both the gardening practices of  his  time and to the previous mine workings which  had left behind harmful mineral  waste. He said  he thought it would be make a change  from other gardens  "............ where the main idea seems to be to bed them out like Brussels Sprouts. The one disadvantage is that they are apt to get their roots into some form of mineral, which may have disastrous effects.......................".
In a hollow near the Fern  Pit was created the Rock Garden , with a small pool fed by a waterfall. Here the planting is somewhat subdued but  on the day we visited the Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'  was in bloom with its heavenly scent wafting on the air.

Thomas Bedford Bolitho  bought a house in 1882 on the  River  Dart in Devon. It was from here that he introduced  plants of the Chilean Nut, Gevuina avellana to Trewidden. These were  to  become what the Gardeners' Chronicle  thought to be "probably equal to any other in the country".In 1930, Edward Thurston in his book  "British and Foreign Trees  & Shrubs in Cornwall.  also  noted "....several trees in fruit [Gevuina avellana] at Trewidden in September , the largest,  planted in 1892, 35ft  6 in high  " There is still a specimen in the Mowhay Garden.

 The North Walk lies to the rear of the house, and it is here that probably one of the oldest magnolia trees is growing .A specimen of  Magnolia hypoleuca : 'Japanese Big leaved Magnolia'  It was planted  in 1897 by Mary 
  Williams herself  who continued to develop the garden after her mother's death in 1935. Her husband wrote:

"There has never been any attempt to make in this garden a collection of great numbers of various plants, but rather to grow some of the best shrubs, and to try and get these to grow into natural and beautiful plants."

The range of plants listed as growing at Trewidden  in the various journal & articles of the nineteenth  century is  numerous. Trengwainton was acquiring a reputation for its newly-introduced rhododendrons but Trewidden was acknowledged as the premier garden in Penzance.  Edward Thurston
made the following comments " This remarkable garden was started and greatly developed  by Mr. T. B. Bolitho, the husband of Mrs. Bolitho , who still lives there.....and his daughter Mrs. Mary Williams " Mary  came back to  live at her old  home of Trewidden after the death of her husband Charles and continued to live there until her death. Trewidden is still the home of the Bolitho family.






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Map Reference: SW44 29 EX7, G5351/358

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