Pentillie’s beautiful woodland gardens stretch over 55 acres around the castle and along the banks of the River Tamar. Due to the fact that many of our bookings at the castle are on an ‘exclusive hire’ basis, and the fact that the castle sits bang in the middle of them, the gardens are only open to the public on specific days, generally in Spring when the gardens are looking their best. We also offer guided tours of the gardens throughout the year. Details of open days and tour dates can be found on our events calendar.
The gardens at Pentillie are not heavily manicured, nor are they full of flower beds and specimen trees. They were originally laid out by Sir James Tillie in c.1705, and while they have certainly been well looked after and maintained in the past, our amazing gardener Chris Duke, and the boys who assist him for a couple of days a week have rather too much on their hands to make every corner of the gardens perfect. As a result Pentillie’s gardens are wilder than most, but because of this they also leave you plenty of opportunities to discover many of it’s secret spots for yourself. Just make sure you wear suitable footwear, and please do not expect tarmac paths – you will be disappointed!
While Sir James Tillie had grand ideas for the gardens and certainly spent a lot of money terracing the landscape, his designs were enhanced and embellished by Humphry Repton’s influence in the early 19th Century. Humphry Repton was commissioned to ‘work his magic’ on the Pentillie Gardens in 1809, and much of his recommendations were based on changing the landscape as a whole, rather than re-designing flower beds. Unusually many of Repton’s ideas were implemented at Pentillie, and the changes his designs were to make on the landscape can still be seen today. Repton’s designs were often captured in a ‘red book’ and Pentillie’s copy has been reproduced in order that all visitors to the gardens are able to cast an eye over this magnificent and rare work. For more information click here.
UPDATE OCT 2015 – Pentillie’s Red Book was reviewed by expert Rupert Powell on the Antiques Roadshow in October 2015 – the valuation was something of a surprise!
While Repton’s designs looked at the wider landscape, another garden designer Lewis Kennedy was invited to re-design the ‘pleasure gardens’ at Pentillie. These became known as the American gardens due to the large numbers of plants and shrubs that were imported from America to fill the area. Kennnedy’s designs were drawn up in 1813, and demonstrate a more obvious ‘garden’ than that of Repton – perhaps more appealing to the ‘lady of the house’. Kennedy’s green book has also been copied, and is also available to view.
While the gardens are still very wild, we do not have immediate plans (or funds available) to make the gardens perfect. We are delighted to welcome you to look around, enjoy the space, discover the secrets for yourself, and indeed to offer advice if you feel able or willing. We will continue to maintain the footpaths, manage the trees and replant shrubs when and where we can. We will also continue to maintain the buildings in the gardens, including the mausoleum (restored spring 2013) and walled garden (walls and greenhouse restored in 2012-13), but please do not expect perfection, but look forward to an opportunity to explore.
The gardens are open on specific dates in the Spring when the gardens are at their most splendid – see events page for details. On these open days you are welcome to wander the gardens at your leisure, spend time exploring the many paths, imagine the glory days of the walled garden, admire the views, and make sure that you join us in the castle dining room for delicious cakes and tea. Entry is £6 per adult. Under 12 yrs free. Dogs welcome on leads.
It is often possible to book an afternoon tea on our open days – a selection of sandwiches, cakes and scones for £18.50pp. Contact the office on 01579 350044 or email us to book a table. We usually try and have a plant sale if the weather is not too hideous!
Our Guided Garden Tours at Pentillie are usually conducted by Ted or Sarah Coryton, or their daughter Sammie, who will reveal a great deal about the history, the secrets and the scandals of the estate. Hear and see details of the restoration work at the Mausoleum and Sir James Tillie’s hidden vault! Tour the gardens and view architect Humphry Repton’s proposed castle remodelling, landscaped gardens and parklands in Pentillie’s red book. Alternatively, if you can gather 15 or more people, we can arrange a private group tour at a time to suit you. Contact the office for more details