• DGT events are cancelled until further notice. We wish all members well during the current COVID-19 circumstances.
Devon Gardens Trust is devoted to the preservation and enhancement of gardens in the UK county of Devon

Thorn House, Wembury and the DGT Exhibition at DRA

Date & Time of Event: 
Thursday, 18 April, 2013 - 11:00

Thorn House (formerly South Wembury House) traces its origins back to the Tudor period, but the current house was built in the early 19th century.  With commanding views over the River Yealm, the garden enjoys a benign maritime climate and is a wonderful place to wander and relax.  A brief extract from the Thorn House website appears below.

A guided tour of the garden commencing 2p.m. followed by afternoon tea.

Thorn House Wembury

The Devon Gardens Trust has been invited to hold an Exhibition of photographs at the Devon Rural Archive (DRA), Shilstone near Modbury, opening in March 2013.  As the DRA is based in the South Hams a short drive from Thorn House, so we encourage everyone interested in the visit to Thorn to assemble at the DRA from 11a.m. onwards. A light lunch will be served from 12.30p.m., and we will depart from the DRA to Thorn House at approximately 1.30p.m.

Tickets (price to be confirmed) and details available from Jane Cumbley (DGT Events Co-ordinator; 01626 773347; [email protected]).  BOOKING ESSENTIAL as places are limited.  Please book before 12th April 2013.  Download the booking form here.


Thorn Garden - History

William Arkwright Thorn House

In 1920 the house was sold to William Arkwright (left), a descendant of Richard Arkwright who had made a fortune in cotton spinning. Having sold his property, Sutton Scarsdale Hall in Derbyshire, he moved to South Wembury House, which he renamed 'Thorn'. Here he embarked upon a major programme of garden development, laying out terraces and formal grounds in imitation of those at Sutton Scarsdale. William brought some of the statuary and other items, including four enormous Italianate Carrara marble urns, with him from Derbyshire to Devon. These remain as important focal points in the garden today. The ram's head handles have formed the current symbol of Thorn (see top of page). The gardens were developed to such an extent that they were reputed to be the richest in Devonshire.

These lasting contributions to Thorn, were further enhanced by the next owner, the Hon. Mrs Ida Marie Sebag-Montefiore. A enthusiastic horticulturalist she won an award at the 1934 Chelsea flower show.

Thorn today

Mrs Sebag-Montefiore moved out of Thorn in 1938, having given some of the neighbouring land to the National Trust, and over the next twenty years the estate was gradually broken up into smaller units. John and Eva Gibson have lived at Thorn since 1981. Eva's vision and knowledge as a plantswoman has enabled her to attempt to recreate Arkwright's vision of 'Utinam'.

 Thorn House Wembury