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Thorn House & Garden, Plymouth, Devon

Thorn sits on the south-east facing bank of the River Yealm in South Devon. The historical gardens principally created by William Arkwright have breathtaking views and hold an exotic collection of trees from around the globe. The architecture and vegetation have been heavily influenced over the years by an eclectic and eccentric mix of owners.

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The nine-acre garden contains interesting and unusual trees and plants and thanks to its sheltered position has allowed the owners (Eva & John Gibson) to grow a wide range of tender plants, including some from South Africa in addition to the well-loved favourites such as camellias and rhododendrons, which should be looking their best in May.

The garden surrounds an elegant house, previously known as South Wembury House, which was occupied during the early 19th century by the mayor of Plymouth, Edmund Lockyer. In 1876 the property was sold to Richard Cory, a successful London coal merchant, and in 1920 changed hands again, being purchased by the eccentric William Arkwright, a descendant of Richard Arkwright who had made a fortune in cotton spinning.

Tour features

Guided tour of ground floor and orangery. Guided tour through the garden by owner. Homemade cream tea on the lawn or in the orangery following the tour.

Accommodation (B&B) available.


A superbly fabulous house. My grandfather, Dr Stanley, lived here in the 1940s and had trees imported from Australia & New Zealand. Magnificent views; a garden to die for, such a peaceful setting… stunning!


Follow the A38 towards Plymouth and exit at Plympton. Follow the road to Brixham / Elburton. Continue towards Elburton. At the large Elburton roundabout, take second exit towards Wembury. On approaching Wembury village, continue straight on down a narrow country lane. At the Old Vicarage turn left and follow signs for Thorn House.

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Useful information

Price £17.00
Duration 2.5 hours

Homemade Devon cream tea and cakes.

Special restrictions

Please wear appropriate footwear for steep paths. No photography in the house. No stilettos in the house. Because our properties are old and fragile, unfortunately we cannot include children under 14.

Disabled access

To the garden only; but some paths are steep. 5 steps to be climbed to enter house, no wheelchair access in the house.

Tour dates

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  • Booking

    To book a tour of this property on one of the tour dates click the tour booking button below. To request a group visit of this property with your party or club on a specific date click the Request a group visit button.

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