Heligan uncovers 'lost' history
14 August 2012
The personal memories of those who visited, lived or worked at Heligan in Cornwall during the 20th century could help reveal the unknown story of the garden during a 'lost' period in its history.
There is little detailed information about what happened at Heligan from the end of the First World War until 1990 when the gardens emerged from under a jungle of undergrowth, pulled back during one of the most famous garden restorations of recent years.
All that is known is the bare facts about how the house and gardens were used, from a convalescence hospital for officers of the Royal Flying Corps to the scene of practice runs for the D-Day landings in 1944.
Now the Lost Memories Project at Heligan wants to trace anyone who remembers the house or garden at any time during these years.
The Project has already gathered a growing archive of albums, letters and personal memories from a variety of people, including the son of the head gardener on the estate in the 1920s and flower pickers who gathered violets to be sent to London. One visitor even remembered that white camellias from the Gardens were used in Princess Alexandra's wedding bouquet in 1963.
'It's the people who visit Heligan and appreciate its unique atmosphere, beauty and soul who keep the place alive,' said Lorna Tremayne, leading the project. 'Now we are inviting those who have more distant personal memories of Heligan to help us fill some of the gaps in our understanding of what went before.'
It's hoped an exhibition based on the stories gathered during the project can be part of celebrations next year to mark the 21st anniversary of the garden reopening to the public. Anyone who would like to take part should contact email@example.com.