Morrab Botanical Gardens in Penzance were Cornwall’s first public gardens. An emerald in Cornwall’s crown, they remain a renowned sub tropical paradise, home to the rare and remarkable Morrab Library.
Nestled in the grounds sits a partially-derelict, former stables building.
The Hypatia Trust, The Friends of Morrab Gardens and the Pengarth Day Centre are working together to renovate the stables and create The Gardeners' House - a new learning centre for botanical and horticultural projects, a natural history reading room, lecture hall, an open air laboratory and communal activity spaces.
The Hypatia Trust donated £15,000 to fund an initial feasability study. This seedcorn money was part of a bequest to the Trust from a supporter in the USA. They then obtained the Heritage Lottery grant of £70,000 to complete the planning and development stages.
Together we are now trying to raise £100,000 to add to the fund, demonstrating that supporters locally and internationally are backing the project. If all this can be done successfully, it will hopefully unlock a further £800,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to carry out the extensive building work. With further fundraising and additional grants the total budget of about £1.2 million will be achieved. This is a really big project for a small town like Penzance, and will provide benefits for years to come.
Joe Palmese, Morrab Head Gardener, quotes:
“This purpose-built space for the gardeners, volunteers and visitors gives me hope and confidence in the future of the Garden. The building is an integral part of the Garden and needs saving. This project gives opportunities to so many people who want to find out more about the plants. I am particularly pleased that there are to be indoor spaces for our teaching groups.”
The Gardeners’ House will provide educational and training opportunities and house the Hypatia Natural History collection – a special collection and women’s archive – of books, papers and ephemera showing the engagement of women in recording the ever-changing natural world – with particular focus on gardens and gardening techniques through history to the present day.
A special archive for the Morrab Gardens itself will also be created.
Melissa Hardie-Budden Founder and Director of the Hypatia Trust says:
“Our joint project is an exciting spur to learning projects for people of all ages and talents. The Head Gardener, Joe Palmese, is an enthusiastic teacher and very hopeful that ‘down-to-earth’ residents and touring garden-lovers will help us to bring our ambitious plans to reality.
It will be not only a pleasure garden for rest and relaxation, but also a much-needed space for citizen science, innovative arts practice and workshop training. The Hypatia Trust specialises in book and ephemera collections focusing on the works and contributions of women to community life. The Hypatia Natural History Collection which will be accessible to all via the reading room in The Gardeners’ House is a special archive, and will reveal female lives dedicated to natural history amongst the many well-known gardeners and plant-hunters of all time.”
Penzance Mayor Dick Cliffe comments:
“This project a great leap forward for Penzance. It is a most welcome investment in a moribund part of the Gardens, and it is a successful first step in what should become the pathway to a sustainable Morrab Gardens regeneration development.”