Bonython Estate Gardens

Bonython Estate Gardens

Cury Cross Lanes, Helston, TR12 7BA
Tel: (01326) 240550

Ancient Cornish estate

Bonython Manor is a 17th century Georgian Manor on the Lizard Peninsula. with sweeping lawns in front and a view to the sea at Poldhu Cove, a mile away. Bonython Manor has a 20-acre colour garden. There is a sweeping drive with hydrangeas and specimen trees leading up to the Georgian Manor (not open to the public), a herbaceous walled garden, a potager with vegetables and flowers, three lakes in a wooded valley planted with ornamental grasses, perennials and South African flowers. The farm and woodlands of the Bonython Estate surround the gardens.

The surname of Bonython is apparently one of the most ancient and aristocratic in the county of Cornwall. Records which tell us that they were in possession of the Bonython Manor continuously from the 14th century to the beginning of the 18th century. The pronunciation of the name is made by accenting the second syllable and rhyming it with "python", as "Bo-ny'-thon". It means a furzy abode.

The manor gardens date from the 1840's when its grounds were considered a model estate. They lay abandoned for 150 years until the present owners, Sue and Richard Nathan began a transformation in 1999 after purchasing the estate. The thatched Summer House was created from a traditional disused stone ‘Bothy’, collapsing outside the walled garden. Repaired in 2005, it now re-appears as a Tea House as if it were always there!

The garden has been extensively re-designed, the formal walled garden divided into herbaceous borders and a kitchen garden.The valley with the three lakes has been planted with ornamental grasses, perennials, tree ferns and rhododendrons. Much of the recent planting has an African theme, including Wild Grasses, Restios, Proteas, Cannas, Tree Ferns and many Summer Perennials making Bonython particularly strong in summer. Mrs Nathan is South African and much of the planting has an African theme.

More than 15,000 deciduous hard-woods have been planted to replace the original shelter belts for the garden, planted two hundred years ago.

The walled garden is divided into two areas. The pool area, which has the herbaceous borders and steps lead through an Escalonia hedge down into the Potager. This area grows the picking flowers for the Manor and the ornamental vegetables and herbs. Tulips are planted to start the flowers off in Spring. Facing south west, the borders are ideal for Agapanthas, Salvias, Roses, and three large Eucryphias producing white blossom in August. The herbaceous borders have a colour theme of blues, purples, whites and yellow. After the Tulips, the Irises flower, followed by Lupins, Aliums, Roses which go on through to late August. The walls in the walled garden are covered with a variety of clematis, Climbing Roses, Lonicera.

The areas below the walled garden are more sheltered, and an orchard with wild flowers beneath the trees slopes down to Lake Joy against a background of specimen trees and shrubs. The sunny bank which dams it has a bold display of South African and Mediterranean plants with camassias congregated beside the water course. Below this Lake Sue is surrounded by masses of ornamental grasses, and hot red colours stand out in late summer. From here a stream leads through the woodland dell, full of wild flowers, new rhododendrons and young Arctic ferns, to the Quarry Lake with vertical cliffs beyond.

RNAS Mullion was an airship station built in 1916 at Bonython. The airships were used to combat the threat from German submarines. The station was exceptionally busy and carried out numerous attacks. The two huge hangers are now gone and only some patches of concrete remain. A wind farm now surrounds the site.

Bonython Manor and its estate gardens were the location for the latest Rosamunde Pilcher film.


Three miles south of Helston, just off the A3083 at Cury Cross.

Opening Times

March - October
Monday to Friday
10.00am - 4.30pm

Admission Charged

Helston       Lizard Peninsula       Bosahan Garden       The Homestead Woodland Garden