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The history of Tresco in the Isles of Scilly

Specialist Inbound Group Tour Operator for Cornwall & Isles of Scilly

Tresco is one of the 5 inhabited islands in the Isles of Scilly located 28 mile from the coast of Cornwall. Tresco is only 2 miles long and 1 mile wide, it is an island of extraordinary contrasts, beauty and tranquillity and offers today’s holidaymaker a unique and luxury holiday experience.

The history of the island dates back to prehistoric times, and on Tregarthen Hill is a megalithic burial chamber dating back 4000 years to the Bronze Age.

The ruined archway in Abbey Gardens is a reminder of the Benedictine monks who made Tresco their home in the 10th Century.

As well as the monks, Tresco was home to marauding pirates and smugglers who preyed on passing ships. Fine examples of figureheads salvaged from shipwrecks can be seen in Valhalla, in the Abbey Gardens. During the Civil War Tresco saw battles between the Roundheads and Royalists. Ruins of King Charles’s Castle and Cromwell’s Castle can be explored on the northern side on the island while the Old Blockhouse looks out towards the island of St Martin’s.

The history of the island was to change when in 1834 the Duchy of Cornwall leased Tresco to Augustus Smith. The island is still leased from the Duchy of Cornwall by his ancestors the Dorrien-Smith family who live in Tresco Abbey.

Augustus Smith spent the next 40 years until his death in 1872, transforming the island and laying the foundations for the prosperity which is still enjoyed on the island today, the most famous legacy is Tresco Abbey and its gardens.

The gardens are one of the most remarkable botanical gardens in the world. Famous for the variety and beauty of their sub-tropical fauna, unique in the British Isles and also because of their location on a tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean.

We specialise in unique and personalised special interest tours of Isles of Scilly for groups large and small, creating tours that focus on subjects and special events; as well as bespoke itineraries for schools, university and alumni groups.

Include a Tresco visit in a group tour of Cornwall and find out more about our service.

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