Reginald Radcliffe Cory 1871 – 1934
Benefactor to Cambridge University Botanic Garden and the Royal Horticultural Society
Reginald Cory came to know and love the Cambridge University Botanic Garden when he came up to Trinity College to study law. Over the years, Cory’s passion for botany and his friendship with Humphrey Gilbert-Carter (Director 1921 – 1950), led Cory to make generous donations to the Garden. In the 1920s, he funded the construction of Cory Lodge as the Director’s residence. (See below) On his death in 1934, it was discovered that Cory had left the balance of his considerable estate to the Botanic Garden.
Nevertheless, due to legal complexities the Cory Fund did not become available until the 1950s, after WWII. It was the money from the Cory Fund that enabled the development of the eastern ‘New Area’ of the Garden by John Gilmour (Director 1951 – 1973) and Bob Younger, Garden Superintendent, in addition to the construction of the Cory Laboratories and glasshouses in 1957. The Cory Fund continues to be an important source of income for the Garden and it is administered by The Cory Fund Committee.
An excerpt from the 1935 Annual Report of the Botanic Garden Syndicate explaining that it would be many years before the Cory bequest would become available to the Garden and that donations were still ‘urgently needed and as gratefully received as in the past’.
Reginald Cory was the son of Sir John Cory, a Welsh coal-mining millionaire. (See Dyffryn Gardens below) In 1930, Cory married Rosa Kester, who worked as secretary in the Botanic Garden and who shared his passion for plants and field botany. Cory died suddenly in 1934. His obituary in the Annual Report of 1934 says: ‘He was a man of attractive personality with wide and often unusual interests, who, with singular modesty and self-effacement, contributed not only to the advancement of the science which he loved and practised, but also to many other good causes.’
‘Reginald Cory had a lifelong passion for plants and gardens and gave generously in support of many horticultural causes and establishments including Cambridge University Botanic Garden and the Royal Horticultural Society.’ Juliet Day, Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, 2006
Cory served on several RHS committees and had sponsored The Cory Cup for Dahlias from 1923. This award has now been extended to the best hardy plant of garden origin. Since 1997, The RHS Reginald Cory Memorial Cup has been awarded to the grower of important hybrids of any genus.
Cory Lodge in the centre of the Botanic Garden was designed by Cambridge architect, M H Baillie-Scott (1865 – 1945), in 1924 as a home for the then-Director Humphrey Gilbert-Carter. Reginald Cory generously funded the project.Three directors and their families lived in Cory Lodge between 1925 – 1983, including Humphrey Gilbert-Carter, John Gilmour and Max Walters. In 1984, Cory Lodge was converted into curatorial and administrative offices as part of cost-savings in the Garden. Today, Cory Lodge houses the renowned Cory Library and Garden Herbarium. Cory Lawn, once part of the Director’s private garden, is now enjoyed by all.
Dyffryn Gardens and Arboretum developed by Reginald Cory at his family home in the Vale of Glamorgan, is now a National Trust property. The 55-acre Grade 1 listed garden is considered to be one of the most important in Wales, known for its ‘exceptional Edwardian garden design’. The garden was designed and developed in 1907 – 1914 by landscape architect Thomas Mawson working in conjunction with Reginald Cory on his father, Sir John Cory’s estate. The recently restored garden incorporates intimate garden rooms, formal lawns and an arboretum with trees collected from across the globe. Dyffryn House opened to the public in March 2013, following restoration from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Vale of Glamorgan Council. Dyffryn Gardens have featured in publications including The Gardens of Wales by Helena Attlee and Alex Ramsay.
Further information South Wales Gardens.