*In partnership with Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens
Delve into Cornwall’s history and you’ll find a land of mystery and intrigue; landscape and traditions that often have more in common with parts of France, or Wales, than England. Every part of Cornwall has it own fascinating tales, embracing pirates, smugglers, miners, giants, monks and mermaids; the stuff of storybooks and tall tales, all set off by the wild landscapes, subtropical climate and land position which exposes Cornwall to the prevailing south-westerly storms which roll off the Atlantic and batter against cliffs, fields and moorland.
As I’ve written before, sitting off the coast of Penzance sits St Michael’s Mount, which at the time of the Norman conquest in 1066, was owned by the monks that owned Mont St Michel in Normandy. Just inland lies Tremenheere; owned by the monks at St Michael’s Mount until 1290 when the Tremenheere family bought the land, and said to have originally been used by the monks as a vineyard.
For the next 600 years, Tremenheere was farmed by the Tremenheere lineage but when this fell away, the land was farmed by a further four generations of Pearce family until 1997 when Dr Neil Armstrong bought the site. Overlooking St Michael’s Mount, the new sub-tropical gardens of Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens and cafe, Tremenheer Kitchens, have become a tropical oasis in a desert of derelict land above Penzance. Intriguingly, as well as the mastermind behind the sculpture garden, Dr Armstrong is also a local GP.
We visited Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens one hot day in July when we were glad of the shade of the woodland planted by one Seymour Tremenheere as far back as 1830. “The gardens are greatly indebted to this man as it was he who planted the Beech, the Oak, the Sweet Chestnut and Holly throughout the woods. He essentially did the early landscaping work. As well as the tree planting, he created a carriageway which zigzagged its way up the hill to his summer retreat”.
At times, we could have believed ourselves to be in California, or perhaps some other desert like place, as cacti emerged from stones. At others, we were deep in fern covered woodland, and every so often, stumbling across a piece of artwork, sculptures that emerged from the landscape, or challenged our preconceptions, or just provided intriguing backdrops and points of interest for examining the views across the bay. It was a peaceful place to walk, and think, and allow the children to interact with the sculptures.
We then paused for afternoon tea at the Tremenheere Kitchen, which we enjoyed so much we returned for breakfast a couple of weekends later when we returned to Penzance to go camping. If we hadn’t had other things planned before heading home I would have bought some flowers from the shop, which was also well stocked with other interesting finds, books and art related things.
Entrance is £8 per adult, £4.50 for children over 11, under 11s free. Family ticket £20. No charge for parking, or visiting the cafe, which we highly recommend, alongside the shop, plant nursery and air plant gallery.
Thank you to Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens for inviting us for a visit. We enjoyed free entry in return for a blog post. Parking was free and we paid for our refreshments.