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.

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.

This property is viewable only through Invitation to View

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.


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.

The private drive has access for a 52-seater coach, provided it does not have very large side hanging mirrors.


Cream tea (coffee if preferred).

Access notes

5 steps to be climbed to enter house, no wheelchair access in the house. There is wheelchair access to the garden, although the wheelchair would have to be pushed over a lawn and there are some steep paths.

If the weather is not kind to us we then have tea the garden room which is also accessible for wheelchairs.


Please wear appropriate footwear for steep paths.


Interested? Click the button below to see available dates. If you're a member and are logged in you'll be able to see the discounted option also.


2019 tour dates

  • 26 April
  • 11 May
  • 8 June
  • 7 and 26 July

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All 2019 tours are £18.00 per person, with a discount for Historic Houses members.