The Friends have supported projects in the House & Park totalling more than £247,000 over recent years.
The Elizabeth II Knot Garden
This lovely new garden situated between the House and the Barrow Centre commemorates both the Tudor origins of the estate and the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. It was designed by Lee Stenning in the form of a knot garden with pergolas and seating, and created in September with the help of 16 German Horticultural students. Metalwork was provided by Mark Stephens, resident Blacksmith. Visitors to the Mount Edgcumbe FaceBook page will have been able to follow its progress through posts and photos: turning a previously ‘lost’ area used as a car park into a suitable setting matching the Earls’ Garden on the other side of the House. Alongside the garden, the remains of the original Laundry (lost in the bombing raid of 1941) have been cleared of ivy and overgrown shrubs, and a sandbagged Anderson Shelter has been installed, with an information board. The Friends funded this project to the tune of £20,000 and the Committee is delighted with the outcome.
For some time now the gardeners and park rangers have been expressing a wish for a tractor that could handle tasks around the gardens and park. Until now they have needed to hire in suitable equipment when necessary. After due consideration the Friends’ Committee decided to take on this project, and a suitable second hand tractor was sourced and purchased. Its arrival proved timely, following the torrential rain and flooding last winter, which washed out several of the tracks and caused considerable damage, so it was soon put to use.
The history of problems with the electric powered ECObus will be well known to Friends and visitors to the park! Eventually it was decided to see if it could be converted to a petrol engine, which would be better able to cope with the hilly terrain. Although no longer exactly ‘ECO’, the converted bus can now manage the long slope up to the House, which has enabled us to use it as an alternative to the little buggy during busy periods. The Committee is currently considering the purchase of a minibus, which will be more comfortable for visitors and drivers alike: watch this space!
The Metta Catharina Project
This project focusses on the maritime heritage of Plymouth Sound through the story of the merchant brigantine the Metta Catharina, wrecked close to the Edgcumbe shoreline during a gale in 1786. This is a permanent shipwreck exhibition at Mount Edgcumbe. Key to the project will be working with volunteers, local schools and other groups to encourage participation and develop learning opportunities. As part of a bid for heritage lottery funding Friends have pledged the sum of £8000. The Metta Catharina Exhibition was opened on 19 June 2013 by Monty Halls, TV Presenter and Marine Biologist, and is situated in three adjoining rooms in the House.
Children’s Play Area
The children’s play area beside the lodge and picnic area at the Cremyll Gate is now complete and proving popular with the younger generation. This project was joint funded by the Friends and a generous grant from SITA Cornwall Trust and is in the form of an adventure playground rather than the conventional ‘swings and roundabouts’. Proximity to the picnic area and the lodge means that parents can relax and enjoy a drink or snack whilst their children are playing!
You may have already seen a new ECO buggy in the Park! At the request of the park management we have funded the purchase of a new vehicle to supplement the well-loved ECO bus. This vehicle, a modified golf buggy, is capable of carrying six passengers and can cope with the steep gradients in the park, which the electrically powered ECO bus occasionally had some difficulty with. After a season of inactivity the earlier electric bus has now been fitted with a Suzuki petrol engine (funded by the Friends) which is much more suited to climbing the hills in the park than the electric motor was. This now gives us two vehicles, a six seater buggy and a twelve seater bus which together should allow us to cope with busy days.
Granite Planters and Benches at Cremyll Ferry Quay
The recent renovation of the buildings at the Cremyll ferry has been completed with the addition of some large granite planters and seating paid for by the Friends at a cost of £3000. The planters will provide a pleasant feature at the entrance to the park and hopefully prevent people parking where they shouldn’t. They came from China and are incredibly heavy so we’re hoping that they won’t prove as tempting to the light fingered as the antique specimens which are regularly stolen from parks and gardens elsewhere!
The Camellia Trail
We have been asked to help the park to upgrade this ever popular Spring trail. Initially, the Friends supported the project by funding a full professional survey and report on what is required to upgrade it (which included the design of new art work for the signs along the trail). The new signs were in place ready for the start of the 2013 season, and are a great improvement.
The Relic Garden
This recently-completed project arises from a generous legacy left to the Friends in a member’s will. The Friends decided that the money should be used on one specific project, and the park suggested a relic garden in which to display items of statuary that were in storage. The Relic Garden was established by Park staff, led by the Head Gardener, Lee Stenning and is situated between the English and French Gardens, in the Lower Park.
Development of the Cremyll Lodge Garden
The Friends have helped to create an open area to the side of the Cremyll Lodge (near the Lower Gates), where people who have bought food and drink from the shop can sit and enjoy their purchases. The area has been cleared by Park staff and the Friends have paid £1065 for several picnic tables located in this sheltered and sunny location.
The Barrow Centre
With the help and guidance from experienced and keen Friends members, a Fire Station Museum has been established adjacent to the Stables cafe. The eye-catching collection is on clear display as visitors enjoy their break in the courtyard.
In the House
The Friends have also supported projects within Mt Edgcumbe House recently, by providing financial support for items such as a butler and housekeeper outfit for house staff and sets of period costumes for vistors, both young and old, to dress up in. In the drawing room Friends have had an armchair recovered and provided a matching window seat cushion so that visitors may sit and relax for a moment during their visit.