Tudor Garden

Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads destroyed many of the world’s original Tudor Gardens, with neglect ruining those that remained.

This traditional garden reflects the fascination sixteenth century English aristocracy had with geometric patterns and symbolism with double meanings.

The intricate knot garden is based upon the drawings by Didymus Mountain – the pen-name of sixteenth century writer Thomas Hill. It is surrounded by mythical beasts, an arbour, Elizabethan wall and a stone pavilion based on the pavilion at Montacute House. 

Traditionally the gardens provided an outdoor setting for fantasy plays or ‘masques’ while the original of this pravilion was used just by the family for summer desserts such as marzipan and sweet spiced wine.

A feature of most Tudor gardens were the beasts on green and white striped poles. None have survived and the only other known reconstruction is at Hampton Court. They include; a griffin, dragon, centaur, phoenix, unicorn, satyr, sea serpent and Bottom – one of the primary characters from William Shakespeare’s comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  They hold sculptural crests of some of the ‘rock stars’ of Tudor times including privateer and slaver Sir Francis Drake, who was notorious for his many plunderous journeys sanctioned by Elizabeth I.

The posts and rails in these gardens were covered in green and white stripes: the Tudor colours. The Tudor Rose on each flag was a combination of the York and Lancaster roses, the symbols of the two sides who fought in the long running The Wars of the Roses. 

Download the children's Tudor Trail activity sheet

Mythical Beasts

Phoenix

Shield: Sir Francis Drake (privateer, slaver, sailor) notorious for his many plunderous journeys sanctioned by Elizabeth I. The Spanish nicknamed him ‘El Draque’, the Dragon. He was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe.

Unicorn

Shield: Mary, Queen of Scots (reigned 1542-1567, then returned to Scotland and reigned until 1587) technically the last Tudor monarch. Mary had been the Queen since she was six days old to her beheading at the age of 44. She was accused of having her husband, Darnley, murdered.

Griffin

Shield: King Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547) famous for so many things. Henry VIII was known to be a very charismatic, intelligent, and cruel King. He had six marriages, some of which ended terribly. He is by far the most well-known of all the British monarchs.

Dragon

Shield: Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603) famous for the offspring of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. She was to be the final monarch of the Tudor Dynasty and was succeeded by James, the son of Mary, Queen of Scots, her cousin whose death she signed-off on.

Satyr

Shield: Sir Francis Bacon (lawyer, natural philosopher, historian, writer, scientist) famous for being made Lord Chancellor of England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. He championed scientific methodology as leading thinker in natural philosophy.

Centaur

Shield: Sir Thomas More (lawyer, statesman, social philosopher, Lord Chancellor under Henry VIII, and humanist – also known as St. Thomas More) famous for writing Utopia and becoming Lord Chancellor of England.

Sea serpent

Shield: Sir Walter Raleigh (writer, poet, soldier, aristocrat, privateer) famous for being a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I. His privateering on behalf of Elizabeth took him to the east coast of America, and North Carolina’s capital city is named after him.

Bottom

Shield: William Shakespeare (playwright, poet) famous for being the most prolific playwright and poet of the day. His works are still performed to this day.