Gyllyngdune Gardens Restoration Scheme

by Nigel Mathews

As one of their commitments to improving the parks of Falmouth, Carrick District Council has launched a project to undertake the restoration of Gyllyngdune Gardens.  These are situated close to the seafront and enclose the Princess Pavilion, a venue for entertainment especially during the summer months.  The Council is looking for funding from local sources and the HLF to, in the first instance, produce a plan and then in a second phase carry out the recommended works. They have set up a project board and appointed the architects, Long and Kentish with the help of Simon Bovosion, to produce a master plan.  The initial sum being sought from the funders is £40,870.00

Members will remember that the CGT produced a record of these gardens back 1996 and this is one of the main source documents for the restoration plan.  The Gardens are a relict of a much bigger estate built in the 1830’s by William Wightwick for General Coope.  The lower part of the garden was created in the quarry from which the stone for the house had been taken, and took the form of a grotto with shell-lined aedicules.  The upper part of the garden, to the west of the house, was a walled kitchen garden with steps leading to a flower garden in the south. General Coope’s son, the Rev William John Coope, added a chapel on the seafront and stairs and a tunnel so the sea front could be reached without crossing Invalids Walk, now the seafront road.

In succeeding years, various owners sold off plots for private development from the estate until the only pieces left were the grotto and the walled garden. These were sold to Falmouth Corporation who opened them in 1907 as the Gyllyngdune Pleasure Gardens featuring the grotto and in the upper garden (then called the Winter Garden) the verandah and bandstand.  The Gardens have been very popular as an entertainment spot in the summer and the verandah has been heavily used both for casual eating and drinking and organised events such as the Flower Show.

The condition of the verandah was causing a good deal of concern as to its safety and as a forerunner to the main restoration plan, it was decided to refurbish it.  Carrick were prepared to provide the monies towards this section of the whole project.  So permission was sought and received from HFL that this would in no way hinder the grant gaining process for the restoration plan, and that Carrick could count it as their contribution to the overall scheme.  MJ Long undertook the refurbishment scheme reusing much of the existing structure, introducing new timbers where necessary, refurbishing the cast iron ware, and replacing the roof.
The work was finished before the summer season last year and officially opened to the public.

The work of the Project Board continues with the restoration plan for the rest of the gardens.

Nigel Mathews, Landscape Officer, Spatial Planning
Planning, Transportation & Estates, Cornwall County Council