Bussaco Woodland

An outdoor chapel, river views and a sense of isolation create a quiet environment for contemplation in the Bussaco Woodland.

This Landscape Garden takes its name from famous sacred woodland in Portugal established by the Barefoot Carmelites in 1628 as a secluded retreat. There are records of protected woodland retreats going back at least 10,000 years.

These highly valued groves were significant because most ancient civilizations considered the woods and forests represented danger, evil spirits and uncivilised ignorance. While they have been recorded in diverse cultures from China to the Mediterranean, in Europe they were often referred to as 'sacro bosque' or 'sacred woodland'.

Trees were usually protected in these areas. Exotic trees were often introduced, and old trees were particularly highly valued. In the Bussaco Woodland at Hamilton Gardens there is a collection of Magnolias as well as a few introduced pines dating from the earliest days of European settlement in the area, which puts their planting date well back into the 1800s.