Enys Gardens

Enys Gardens

St. Gluvias, Penryn, TR10 9LB
Tel: (01326) 377621
Email: info@enysgardens.org.uk
Web: www.enysgardens.org.uk


Cornwall's oldest garden

The Enys Trust was formed in 2002 as a charity in order to secure the long term future of the garden at Enys, near Penryn, and to open the garden to the public.

It is said that Enys is considered to be the oldest garden in Cornwall. Robert de Enys lived there during the reign of Edward 1. The 1709 edition of Camden's Magna Britannia mentioned that Enys was noted for its fine gardens. In 1833 John Samuel Enys engaged Henry Harrison, a London architect, to produce designs for the garden as well as the house. Amongst these features was the Ladies Garden, later called the Flower Garden. This garden leads into the Colonel's Garden, named after Colonel Enys (1757-1818). Colonel Enys had an unusually large nose, and it is perhaps fitting that his garden is currently being replanted as a scented garden.

John Davies Enys (1837-1912), an inveterate traveller, greatly enriched Enys with seeds and plants he regularly sent home from New Zealand and Patagonia. The lakes in the lower valley have a water wheel which raised water to the house. The scenery created here has been much photographed over the years. In spring the bluebells in the parkland, known as Parc Lye, are a sight to behold. This area is believed to be undisturbed since ancient times, and contains many trees of a great age. The formal gardens still contain plants shrubs and trees from the J D Enys Collection, and the Estate also has a fine collection of bamboos comprising a number of very rare varieties.

Probably the most valuable asset to the garden is its micro-climate. It is virtually frost free, and this, together with the mild and temperate influence of the Gulf Stream, enables many tender plants and trees to flourish. One of the most important of these is the Peruvian Laurel, one of the few specimens growing in England today. There is also a Maidenhair tree, (Ginkgo biloba) which is said to be the tallest specimen outside Kew Gardens.


The Enys Estate has been owned by members of the Enys family since the 13th century, starting with Robert de Enys in 1272. Samuel Enys (1611-1697) was the first owner of Enys known to have left records of his family tree and notes about his family life, including his marriage to Elizabeth Pendarves and their several children.

The Elizabethan house which burnt down in 1826 had been built in the traditional E-shape and had the family Coat of Arms inserted into windows in the hall and parlour. Following the fire the architect Henry Harrison was asked to provide plans for the house and garden.

From August 1830 – November 1832 Peter Penprase was employed in building the new house on the site of the old one, incorporating undamaged parts/areas which remained. At some stage an improved water supply was constructed to bring water, from supplies in the grounds, nearer to the house to have available in the event of another fire.

In 1939 plans were made to let the house, furnished or unfurnished, because Miss Elizabeth Enys had moved to a smaller property in the grounds. In 1940 the British Admiralty requisitioned the estate for the Royal Netherlands Navy to use as a training establishment for their officer cadets. It was no longer safe for them to remain in Holland. Although they did not anticipate a prolonged stay they remained until 1946, a year after the Netherlands were liberated.

In 1950 it became a Preparatory boarding school for 60 boys aged between 7 and 13 who were tutored for the Public Schools Common Entrance Examination. In addition to their academic studies they were encouraged to spend time in the open air. Sports were played and carpentry, woodcutting, gardening and hobbies encouraged. Personal reading time was also included in the daily activities. Dormitories, as well as the bathrooms, had hot and cold water. Central heating was supplied by a large boiler in the cellar. The house has been unoccupied since the school closed and has deteriorated considerably. It is now only inhabited by five types of bat but work is in progress, in 2011, to renovate the building.

In July 1957 the house, including the adjoining service wing, Italianate clock tower, walls and gate-piers and the barn, coach-house and stables were granted Grade2 listing status by English Heritage. In 2002 Professor Rogers founded the Enys Trust, which is charged with the task of taking care of the gardens at Enys now and into the future.


About one mile north of Penryn.

Opening Times

Tuesday, Thursday
and the first Sunday of every month
2.00pm - 4.00pm
April to September

Admission Charged

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