Britain By Car - A Motoring History


The family home of Donald Healey during the 1960s.

Trebah Garden, Mawnan Smith, Nr Falmouth, TR11 5JZ

1961 - 1971

Other locations 
Penhallow, Cornwall
Perranporth, Cornwall
Warwick, Warwickshire

In 1961, Donald Healey bought the 26-acre Trebah estate, which included a Georgian manor house, a number of outbuildings, and a large gardens, set in a wooded valley, running down to the beach on Helford River.

Trebah, however, was not an ordinary house and garden.  It had steadily been developed for almost 150 years by a succession of owners who created a series of extensive landscaped gardens, containing hundreds of plants from all parts of the world.

In addition, during the Second World War, the estate was also an embarkation point for 7,500 US servicemen taking part in the landings on Omaha Beach, with special concrete piers and ramps being constructed to enable ships and landing vessels to be loaded.  

Like previous owners, Donald Healey and his family continued to plant and cultivate the gardens.  For a number of years they also regularly dispatched by rail cut flowers from the estate to be sold at the old Covent Garden Market.

They also carried out renovative work on the Estate, restoring the ponds, removing much of the concrete from the beach and building a new boathouse and orchid house.     

It was at Trebah where Donald Healey carried out development work on the Jensen-Healey and built three Rolls-Royce-engined sports cars, working on a possible replacement for the Austin Healey.

In 1971, the Healey family sold Trebah and moved to Truro.  In 1987, and three owners later, the gardens were opened to the public.  Shortly afterwards, a charitable trust was established to maintain and preserve the garden; it is open daily throughout the year.

A memorial to Donald Healey, donated by the Austin Healey Owners’ Club is located close to the Visitor Centre.

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