A Short Biography of the Garden
The property (15 acre) was bought by the Fox family in the early 19th century. It was developed as the summer residence for the Quaker family. Robert Were Fox (1789-1877), was an famous English geologist and natural philosopher. Also a mining expert, Robert wrote many scientific papers, e.g. on his research on the internal temperature of the earth. He invented navigational equipment, and he also carried out scientific experiments on the acclimatization of plants. He is credited with naturalizing over 300 species of plants. Robert Were Fox formed a lasting friendship with A. von Humboldt. He married Maria Barclay and had three children: Anna Maria, Barclay and Caroline.
Robert's son Barclay took his father's mantle. It was him who was responsible for enlarging the existing cottages to make a house and, in the 1840s, for the developing the gardens around it. Furthermore, he laid out the entrance drive leading from the Lodge across the ground to the north side of the house. Caroline, born in 1810, is well known as an authoress, as she kept a diary, recording memories of many distinguished people, such as John Stuart Mill, John Sterling and Carlyle. The greater part of it was destroyed after her death, a single volume survived. It was later published and proclaimed as a great literary work.
Unfortunately, the old house became derelict and had to be pulled down. Were it has been, another descendant of the Fox family, Waldo Trench Fox, built the present slate-hung house in 1935. A terrace walk across the front leads us today past the remains of what were a covered fernery and a grotto and heads to the front of the garden. The extensive collection of sub-tropical trees and shrubs includes original early hybrid rhododendrons, crossed by Barclay Fox and by Mr Smith, one of his head gardeners. 'Penjerrick Cream' is one of the beautiful rhododendrons hybridized in this garden. There are massive specimens of Dicksonia antarctica (tree ferns) some reaching up to five metres high and with a girth of two metres. There are also great clumps of bamboos, many camellias, azaleas and towering trees.
Penjerrick was left to the National Trust by Janet M.K. Fox along with a substantial endowment. Sadly the endowment was not considered to be adequate and this bequest was turned down. The garden is now owned and looked after by her daughter Mrs. Rachel Morin.
Information provided by Rachel Morin.
Below is a postcard from c.1905, part of the Valentines Series. It shows what Penjerrick Garden used to look like and how popular it was only 100 years ago. The view is from the lower part of the garden, at Tregedna Pond, looking up towards the old house which has since been replaced.
We thank cornovia.org.uk for allowing us to use this image.
'Few gardens have the wonderful atmosphere of Penjerrick...' (Patrick Taylor)