Trustee recruitment

Garden House Trustee Recruitment

The Chair of Trustees at The Garden House near Yelverton in Devon is looking for Trustees to come and help lead the team at our beautiful garden. We seek progressive and innovative individuals with strong commercial focus, who can help to lead the development of the many business opportunities at The Garden House and significantly increase revenue.

Our friendly team of staff and volunteers are critical to us and our first-class garden is the jewel that shines. Our board of trustees is looking for some additional, specialised support so that we can guide The Garden House, via our new General Manager, to establish a sustainable and secure future.

We are particularly looking for highly experienced individuals who have skills in:

  • Marketing and visitor attraction publicity
  • Fundraising, legacies, sponsorship
  • Garden Design and Establishment

Do you think you are that person? Can you help take The Garden House through an exciting period of change and development? If you are that person, please forward a covering letter and your CV to

Our Values

We are a small, independent charity with a lot to offer. We are incredibly proud of our garden and want nothing more than to share it. Our aim is to inspire people to love this special place, and to enjoy coming back again and again.

We are acutely aware that our work carries a cost, and that presenting The Garden House to a high standard needs tight financial management. That is why we are driven to maintain efficiency, and at the same time explore every avenue of income and support.

This of course requires team work, and as a small team we rely upon each other for support and shared success. Our team of volunteers, friends and staff feel like extended family, as we all pull together and praise each other.

We are all conscious of the ‘Spirit of the Place’, the intangible thing that makes The Garden House so special. We are acutely aware in everything we do that this must also be protected, for it is this that endears our visitors to this wonderful garden.

About The Garden House

The garden lies on a north-facing slope of a quiet valley running down to the River Tavy. It is nearly 500ft above sea level and gets between 50 and 60 inches of rain a year. The pH of the soil is around 5.5.

We’re part of an ancient landscape, in that band of territory settled by early monks who came over from Wales to north Cornwall and then to Devon. Buckland Abbey, on the other side of the village, dates back to 1278, and when Henry VIII dissolved the Monasteries in 1539, the Abbey was sold and the Abbott became Vicar of Buckland Monachorum. The ruins of the 16th-century vicarage can be seen in the Walled Garden (tower and thatched kitchen). The house that the tearoom is in was the newer vicarage and dates from the 1820s. In the 1930s the Church of England sold the vicarage with 10 acres of land and the vicar moved to a new vicarage on the main road into the village.

In 1947, the house and land were sold to Lionel and Katharine Fortescue, and that’s when the history of the garden as we know it today really begins. Lionel Fortescue, a retired schoolmaster from Eton, replanted the Walled Garden, the upper terraces and around the house. Lionel chose only the best plants and produced some outstanding rhododendron hybrids.

Lionel and Katharine founded The Fortescue Garden Trust in 1967 to preserve the garden after their deaths, and Lionel also made the inspired choice of Keith Wiley as his Head Gardener.

In 1983 Keith and his wife Ros took over the running of the garden. Keith embarked on a bold and imaginative expansion of the garden – he was inspired by plants in their natural surroundings and he recreated the landscapes of South Africa, the Mediterranean and New England here at The Garden House. He created the wonderful Ovals Garden, within the Walled Garden. His pioneering style of gardening became known as ‘New Naturalism’.

In 2003 Keith and the Trustees parted ways and Matt Bishop took over as Head Gardener in 2003. Matt was with us for a decade until he left in 2013 to run his Galanthus nursery. He did a great deal in developing the garden’s vast collection of bulbs, some of which are very rare. However, Matt’s major legacy to The Garden House is the 2-acre Jubilee Arboretum which he designed and created to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Fortescue Garden Trust.

Currently the Garden House is gardened by Matt’s successor Nick Haworth and the garden continues to fulfil the Fortescue Garden Trust’s objectives of ‘The laying out planting, improvement, maintenance and upkeep of the Trust land as a garden for the enjoyment of the public’. Nick’s great skill as a gardener can be seen not only in the first-rate standard of presentation, but in his subtle and intuitive eye for the ‘design’ of the garden. Nick has brought some great improvements, and keeps the garden in excellent condition.