Trematon Castle, Saltash

Trematon Castle is perched on a high promontory with the most extraordinary views across the Plymouth Sound. As you approach you clearly see the outline of the castle on the horizon and your anticipation is well rewarded as you drive round to park at the front besides the magnificent gatehouse. It is currently lived in by the garden designers Isabel and Julian Bannerman, whose work includes commissions for Highgrove, Waddesdon and Houghton Hall, as well as the New York British Memorial Garden for 9/11. Isabel Bannerman gave us a tour of the gardens and the different parts of the castle

Trematon Castle has been owned by the Duke of Cornwall since Norman times. Originally this was the site of a Roman fort, but during the Norman period a fine castle, motte and bailey were built with a gatehouse designed to be suitable lodgings for the ‘Black Prince’, Edward Prince of Wales. Over the centuries the castle was used for various purposes, including temporarily storing Sir Francis Drake’s treasure after he had circumnavigated the world in 1580. Gradually however it became ruined. Then in 1807, Benjamin Tucker, Secretary to the Admiral Earl of St Vincent and later Surveyor of the Duchy of Cornwall, was granted a long lease and permission to build a Georgian house within the castle courtyard. Today the house and much of the castle still survive.

The Bannerman family moved in two years ago. They describe how they ‘began to plant a garden which is intended to play to the Castle’s romantic and pre-Raphaelite glories, the astonishing wild flowers, woodland and orchard, have been intensified with bold borders full of scent, colour, lustre and panache’. The first year was spent clearing and importing soil and, in 2013, the formal garden areas around the house began to be planted, with hundreds of roses and herbaceous plants. Work continues: the walled kitchen garden has recently been cleared and the garden interventions of earlier tenants were being improved on; as we arrived huge terracotta pots were being manhandled into position by the Rajasthan inspired swimming pool. The most dominant feature however is the motte, the high earthwork whose turf is filled with wild flowers and herbs, and looks down on the woodland of magnificent beech trees, the whole garden and the castle enclosure, providing a spectacular, almost birds eye view.

Julia Bigham – 12 June 2014