White Wings was built in 1937 for Mr and Mrs Reginald Gwinn, on land previously owned by Mrs Bessie Betjeman, the Poet Laureate’s mother. They used White Wings initially as their holiday retreat, moving down to Trebetherick permanently after the Second World War.
Mr Gwinn, always known as Rex, was the headmaster of a boys’ prep school in Clevedon, Somerset; his wife was born Christine Kelway, of the well-known Kelway’s Nursery in Langport, Somerset – famous for its irises and paeonies in particular, and still exhibiting at the Chelsea Flower Show though now under new ownership. Christine was a knowledgeable and enthusiastic gardener herself, and created the garden at White Wings out of a cornfield. The garden was much larger then as it also included the land on which Gwylanas now stands. Based on her experiences she wrote three books under her maiden name: ‘Gardening on sand’, ‘Seaside gardening’ and ‘Gardening on the coast’.
When Rex Gwinn died in the 1970s, White Wings was bought by Mr and Mrs Stanley Wyles who lived there for 10 years. They also loved the garden, until it became too much for them. Mrs Wyles took part in one of BBC2’s Gardener’s World programmes during the 1980s; there is a video recording of her showing off the White Wings garden in its prime, including a wonderful vegetable plot with an amazing watering system. They also have on display in the house some photographs acquired at an auction of the garden when it belonged to Christine Gwinn. They were in touch with her about the house and garden shortly before her death in 1990.