Constantine Cornwall

Enys House and gardens

The June visit saw a group of 16 members enjoy a guided tour of Enys House and gardens, Penryn, with Wendy Fowler the co-owner and Trustee of the garden.

Wendy told us that the Enys estate dates from 1272 but the current house, designed by Henry Harrison, was built around 1833/4 on the site of a previous Elizabethan Manor which had burnt down in 1820. This house was lived in by the Enys family until the second World War when it was requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence for use by the Dutch Royal Navy, as a training centre.

For a short time after the war it was used as a boys boarding school but afterwards became empty & slowly deteriorated. Seven years ago it was in a dilapidated state & inhabitated by over 300 bats! Dealing with the Bats, at substancial costs, then caused further delays to the start of essential renovation work. Finally work was able to start on, the once fine Grade 2 listed Georgian building, making the roof water tight, replacing or repairing rotten joists, removing much rotten wood & damaged plaster. Now the house has many bare stone walls & ceilings & no fittings but at last is dry & safe enough for some events to be held.

The house has an impressive square internal hall & staircase, lit by a huge skylight with the eight main rooms leading off. A further 26 servant rooms are in a wing leading away from the main area! An unusual feature are a number of windows which were totally bricked up on the inside but appear on the outside to be quite normal windows with closed shutters! A huge amount of renovation work is still to be completed on this empty but imposing house.

From the house we moved across to the old stable block where we were able to study the history of the Enys family, the house & the estate from the informative wall boards. Right on time the sun came out ready for our stroll around the gardens!

The thirty acre gardens, possibly one of the oldest in Cornwall, had also become badly neglected & hit by Phytophthora so the gardeners have been working hard to clear affected areas for replanting & have succeeded in putting other areas back to something like their former glory. Unfortunately, our visit was after their renowned carpet of Bluebells was over for this year but we were still able to appreciate their fine collection of other plants & trees. Another surprise was the large walled garden of over two acres!

Everyone enjoyed a facinating & informative evening provided by Wendy Fowler, who with her Brother have taken on the huge renovation project of this historic estate. Peter Tatham thanked Wendy for giving the Group a facinating personal tour of the house & gardens & wished her every success with their further renovations.

On Thursday July 14th the group will be visiting the Helston Preservation Society for a train ride, talk and refreshments. Meet at Constantine Church car park at 18.00 to arrange transport in cars. Visitors are welcome.