Caerhays Castle Book
Caerhays Castle Book
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An Introduction to its History, Owners & Gardens
by Charles Williams, Peter Herring, Jaimie Parsons, Courtenay Smale and Stephen Tyrrell
edited by Stephen Tyrrell
Caerhays is a romantic castle, historic estate and family home. It is also one of the country’s most important gardens and a centre for botanic research. A new book describes the history of the house, gardens and families that have lived there.
The book examines the history of the area from early times, goes into some quirky by-ways, and includes detailed tours of both house and garden, together with encyclopaedic information on some plant species. The church, the coast, the countryside, even the sparkling mineral collection, receive attention. In addition to specialist sections and records for gardeners, botanists and plant collectors there are chapters on history, architecture, early settlements, John Nash, paper roofs, Plant hunters, the medieval house, the house, the gardens, and even one which includes a cake recipe from 1700.
The chapters detail some of the personal tragedies and successes at Caerhays which includes the story of the Trevanions, once one of Cornwall ’s great dynasties, before dramatic bankruptcy. The work of John Nash and the history of the buildings is examined in detail. It is also the story of the Williams family, who achieved wealth in business and mining activities and then spent it on houses, gardens and their tenants. Caerhays has had, in that family, some of the country’s greatest gardeners and plant breeders. Specialists for 120 years in the plants of SW China , they have created the glory that draws thousands to the gardens each spring: the finest collection of magnolias in Britain and possibly the world.
Caerhays Castle used to be known only as a private and mysterious house. Caerhays was important in the early recording and breeding of plants and seed bought to England by the early plant hunters and adventurers. The collections of camellias, rhododenrdrons, magnolia hybrids, oaks, podocarpus and champions trees all set in 120 acres of garden are the astonishing result of 100 years of garden work by one family.
This book is intended to celebrate the life, times, disaster and amusements of Caerhays. It is a wide ranging introduction to a thousand years of history and a century of botanic gardens. It is also an enjoyable read with sufficient variety of content to satisfy any reader. Around 630 colour illustrations include not only plants but also portraits, plans, family trees, and of course lots of magnolias, and camellias, together with the sort of detailed information, in the appendices, which no gardener can be without.