Morrab Garden // Penzance

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Morrab Gardens were started out as the property of wealthy brewer, Samuel Pidwell. Pidwell built Morrab House in 1841 as his home on a three acre strip of land running from the town centre to the sea front. In fact the word Morrab comes from the Cornish for sea-shore (mor = sea and app = shore) When in 1889, Pidwell moved, the property was bought by the local council, or Corporation as it was known then, for use as municipal park to cater for the ever growing number of tourists. The house became the Penzance town library and the gardens fell under the guardianship of landscape gardener, Reginald Upcher.

Morrab Library

Whilst Upcher was largely responsible for the layout of the gardens, Morrab’s reputation for its array of sub-tropical plants was developed somewhat later. Amongst the fine examples of tender and rare plants are huge examples of the ubiquitous cordyline (or Cornish palm), tree ferns, banana plants and Japanese Bitter Orange.

Various features were added to the gardens over the years starting with the Boer War Memorial in 1904, which is a separate, more secluded section of the gardens with a small statue to commemorate those who gave their lives. Over recent years the statue has suffered from vandalism but has always been restored.

Morrab bandstand

A year later the bandstand was completed. Built with money from local coal merchant JH Bennett, the bandstand was opened with some ceremony and a concert by Penzance Military Band. Now-a-days there are no concerts here and most of the chairs were given away (we have 2 in the greenhouse!)

Morrab Garden’s other notable feature is the fountain at the top end of the gardens. As far as I can tell this has been here more or less since the gardens opened. As a centrepiece it has a seal on a ball balancing a fish spouting water.