Colesborne, famous for its collection of snowdrops, houses a plantsman's collection of rare trees from around the world, including 8 Champion Trees recorded by the Tree Register. Started by naturalist Henry John Elwes FRS who wrote the unique book "The Trees of Great Britain and Ireland " (1907-13) and recently reprinted by the Society of Irish Foresters, the collection is mainly situated in and around Colesbourne Park and has been substantially added to over the last 45 years by the current owner, Sir Henry Elwes.
The original house comprised a Queen Anne front built onto an ancient manor house. J.H. Elwes decided that the old house was too small for a family of twelve children, demolished it, and built a grand Victorian mansion on a new site nearby. This house was requisitioned in the last war and then lay, half empty until inherited by the present Henry Elwes in 1956. Henry pulled it down in 1958 and built a smaller one on the same site, incorporating one room from the old mansion. The estate now comprises 2500 acres including four farms, 900 acres of forestry and most of the village property.
The lake was created in 1922 in a deep wooded valley near the house to provide hydro-electric power for the big mansion. The wonderful blue colour is believed to be caused by the colloidal clay in the water.
Five of the trees planted by HJ are now the largest of their kind, ‘Champion Trees’, in the UK