Below is a postcard from c.1905, part of the Valentines Series. It shows how Penjerrick Garden used to look and how popular it was only 100 years ago. The view is from the lower part of the garden, at the top pond, looking up towards the old house.
A Short History of the Garden
The 15 acre property was bought in the early 19th century by the Fox family, who developed it as their summer residence. Robert Were Fox (1789-1877) was a famous English geologist and natural philosopher. He was also a mining expert, and wrote many scientific papers including research on the internal temperature of the earth. He invented navigational equipment, and also carried out scientific experiments on the acclimatization of plants. He is credited with naturalizing over 300 species of plants. Robert Were Fox formed a lasting friendship with A. von Humboldt. He married Maria Barclay and had three children: Anna Maria, Barclay and Caroline.
Robert’s son Barclay later took on responsibility for the site, with his contribution including the enlargement of the existing cottages to make a house and, in the 1840s, the development of the surrounding gardens. Furthermore, he laid out the entrance drive leading from the Lodge across the ground to the north side of the house.
Caroline, born in 1810, is well known as an author. She kept a diary, recording memories of many distinguished people, such as John Stuart Mill, John Sterling and Carlyle. The greater part of her work was destroyed after her death, a single volume survived. It was later published and acclaimed as a great literary work.
Sadly, the old house became derelict and had to be pulled down. Where it had been, Waldo Trench Fox, another descendant of the Fox family, built the present slate-hung house in 1935. A terrace walk across the front leads us today past the remains of what was once a covered fernery and a grotto, and leads to the front of the garden. The extensive collection of sub-tropical trees and shrubs includes original early hybrid rhododendrons, crossed by Barclay Fox and by Mr Smith, one of his head gardeners. ‘Penjerrick Cream’ is one such beautiful rhododendron hybridized in this garden. There are massive specimens of Dicksonia antarctica (tree ferns) some reaching up to five metres high. There are also great clumps of bamboos, many camellias, azaleas and towering trees.
Penjerrick was left to the National Trust by Janet Fox along with a substantial endowment. Sadly the endowment was not considered to be adequate and this bequest was turned down. The garden is now owned and looked after by her daughter Mrs. Rachel Morin.