"I love their famous Trebah Flans, yummy!" P. Atkinson, Truro
The estate dates back to
the Doomsday Survey of 1085 when it was owned by the Bishop of Exeter and
passed through many old Cornish families for six centuries.
The existing house was built by the Nicholls family around 1852. In 1838 Trebah was purchased by Charles Fox, a wealthy Quaker and manager of Perran Foundry, who set about creating a garden in the south facing valley. During his 40 yrs, he planted the shelterbelts, created the framework of paths and as a shipping agent, arranged shipments of exotic plants from around the world. The estate was passed on to his daughter Juliet and her husband Edmund Backhouse who continued to maintain the garden and expand the plant collection for a further 29 years.
In 1907 Charles (High Sheriff of Cornwall) and Alice Hext, affluent socialites brought the garden to the peak of perfection aided by a large team of gardeners. The diversity of the plant collection grew enormously during their tenure and many new developments took place in the garden. Alice Hext died in 1939 having long outlived her husband.
The outbreak of WW11 brought to an end the golden era at Trebah, the estate was split up and the farm sold off separately.
In 1944 the beach at the bottom of the garden, Polgwidden Cove was used as an embarkation point for some 7500 soldiers and equipment of the 29th US Infantry Division in the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
Over the next twenty years Trebah changed hands five times, until it was purchased in 1961 by Donald Healy, the racing driver and car designer. He used the outbuildings to build prototypes of Rolls Royce engines and running chassis for Jensen-Healey.
In 1981 Trebah was bought by Major and Mrs Tony Hibbert as their retirement home. Major Hibbert was in the Parachute Brigade that held the bridge at Arnheim for 72 hours against overwhelming odds, was captured by Germans, jumped truck and escaped. The Hibberts were persuaded to begin a programme of restoration work by the Cornwall Garden Trust and opened the garden to the public in 1987 to fund the project. The garden is now run as a registered charity and is open every day of the year and annually receives some 110,000 visitors.