The site was once one of Europe’s leading orchid nurseries, Wyld Court Orchids. In 1993 it was converted by philanthropist Keith Bromley and horticulturalist Barry Findon into a rainforest visitor centre called Wyld Court Rainforest, featuring plants and animals from the world’s threatened rainforests. In 1996, the centre was donated to the World Land Trust and in July 2000, passed on to Karl Hansen who established The Living Rainforest as an independent educational charity.
The charity has grown significantly since 2000, with an emphasis on the need for sustainable development and sustainable living to help conserve the world's disappearing forests and threatened ecosystems. The Living Rainforest's horticultural and zoological staff care for about 700 different species of plants and animals. Major grants from the Millennium Commission, European Commission and other funders have enabled the charity to build a sustainably designed and inspired 'Human Impact Building' and woodchip heating system, which opened in March 2006, inviting visitors to consider how rainforests are linked to their own lives. An acclaimed education programme, offering a choice of four guided school visits, attracted over 20,000 schoolchildren to the centre in 2010-11, and the Living Rainforest is now widely regarded as one of the UK's leading eco-attractions.