Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire
Text Box on Langham
Kirby Hall, Northamptonshire
Ashby de la Zouch, Leicestershire
Bolsover Castle, Derbyshire
Boscobel House, Shropshire
Old Wardour Castle, Wiltshire
Text Box on Richard Woods
Appuldurcombe House, Isle of Wight
Wrest Park, Bedfordshire
Text Box on letters
Chiswick House, London
Text Box on William Kent
Marble Hill House, London
Audley End, Essex
Text Box on Capability Brown
Osborne House, Isle of Wight
Bayham Old Abbey, Sussex
Text Box on Humphry Repton
Belsay Hall, Northumberland
Text Box on garden note
Witley Court, Worcesterhshire
Text Box on William Andrews Nesfield
Brodsworth Hall, South Yorkshire
Text Box on accounts
Down House, Kent
Battle Abbey, East Sussex
Mount Grace Priory, North Yorkshire
Eltham Palace, Greater London
Walmer Castle, Kent
Contemporary Heritage Gardens
Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight
Acton Burnell Castle, Shropshire
Bishop Auckland Palace Deer House, County Durham
Castle Acre Priory, Norfolk
Denny Abbey, Cambridgeshire
Finchale Priory, Durham
Great Yarmouth Row Houses/Middlegate Gardens, Norfolk
Hill Hall, Essex
Lyddington Bede House, Rutland
Northington Grange, Hampshire
Roche Abbey, South Yorkshire
Rufford Abbey, Nottinghamshire
Rushton Triangular Lodge, Northamptonshire
Stokesay Castle, Shropshire
Wenlock Priory, Shropshire
Whitby Abbey, North Yorkshire
This book will appeal to those interested in gardening, English history or any one that simply likes to look at lovely photographs. - Waterstone's Books Quarterly
This book will keep you dreaming of the perfect English garden, well beyond summer. A fascinating take on our gardening heritage. - CSMA magazine
If an Englishman's home is his castle, then what does that make his garden? Presumably his kingdom and a very beautiful realm many of them are too is 'The Gardens of English Heritage' is anything to go by. - Daily Express
A valuable reference for anyone interested in English landscapes, gardens and houses. - BBC Gardens Illustrated
Stacked full of divine pictures, interesting tidbits. Some gardens are interesting for their design, some for the planting; some are new like the Chiswick House garden and some are ancient as the hills. But they are all fascinating. - Lady
Highlights the landscapes in all their glory. - Independent
Written in an accessible yet scholarly style, this book tells the story of how each garden was created and of the sometimes eccentric families who owned them. Accompanied by gorgeous and evocative photographs, this is a fantastic book for the amateur and professional historian alike. - Image Interiors
The authors have managed to entwine their obvious knowledge, expertise and passion for the subject of garden history within a readable and accessible text that brings to life not only gardens, plants and architecture, but also the flamboyant characters behind each property... It uses English Heritage properties to provide the reader with a wide, fairly comprehensive and extremely enjoyable introduction to English garden history and for that it should be applauded. - English Garden
Think of English Heritage and you think of castles, abbeys and ancient monuments of all kinds, but rarely of the grand parks and gardens that adorn many of these properties across the country. This coffee-table book, beautifully illustrated with high-quality photography, puts the record straight. Writers Gillian mawrey and Linden Groves tell the fascinating stories of these gardens, some of which are of great historical imoprtance, some are horticulturally interesting and others are simply sources of joy. - Beautiful Britain
Should be compulsory reading before a visit, for the insight and the background it provides. - Professional Gardener
Individual chapters detail 23 gardens, with supplementary chapters on significant modern places and a clutch of 'also-rans', taking readers on a laudable armchair tour through some of England's most glorious and celebrated outdoor spaces. - House & Garden
The perfect gift for the garden enthusiast. - Retirement Today
English Heritage's gardens are much less well-known than those of the National Trust, yet full of surprises and delights… Written by Gillian Mawrey and Linden Grives, with a light touch, it makes a useful companion to National Trust garden histories. - Evening Standard
The first book to describe the magnificent parks and gardens owned by English Heritage. - Garden News
The perfect gift for the garden enthusiast. - Retirement Today
The pictures are excellent and it's well written and researched. - Oxford Times
This book is incredibly good value, the text very readable and dense with fascinating information, and the numerous illustrations, mainly photographs but also garden plans and other historic material, evocative and informative. - Historic Gardens Review
One is left wondering what the future holds for this guardian of our past in an age of budgetary restraint. - Garden
An attractive, authoritative and highly readable book. - Horticulturalist
The depth of knowledge of these authors, and their love for their subject, is evident in the detail they give for each garden, both of the history and the plants. This book is also a testament to the excellent work of English Heritage and entices the reader to plan visits to all these properties. - Brown Book - LMH Oxfordf University
Kenilworth was a royal castle which from time to time passed to a nobleman who was currently enjoying the monarch's favour, only to revert back to royal ownership when he or his descendents fell from grace. It was set on a slight hill and protected by a small lake created in Norman times by the damming of two streams. Early in the 13th century, King John added a curtain wall and flooded more land to create what became known as Great Mere. The castle became easier to defend, and the family also had the aesthetic benefit of a view from their private apartments over a beautiful expanse of water extending from the foot of the castle towards the horizon.
The wooded land surrounding the castle was regarded as one of the finest hunting parks in the entire country. Women as well as men would pass whole days on horseback here chasing deer and wild boar. At what point a garden was made inside the castle walls is not recorded, but there was certainly one in the late 14th century when Kenilworth was held by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, who was regent during his nephew Richard II's minority. The most powerful man in the kingdom, he added a large new wing in the most up-to-date style, containing a magnificent Great Hall, and it is highly likely that he would have included a garden in the specification for his builders and decorators.
But the first outdoor area at Kenilworth we know was used for purely pleasure was the 'Pleasance in the Marsh' Henry V created in 1414-17 on the far side of the mere. A substantial wooden building, intended as a rustic retreat which the king and his privileged guests could visit by boat and stay for a meal, it was surrounded by a garden of about 2 ½ acres, set within a park of 9 or 10 acres which had alleys for strolling in. The Pleasance was still being maintained in 1463, and the accounts for that year also mention a garden within the castle walls which was being dug up to make a jousting place. The implication is that it had been there for a while, but there are no clues about what it was like.
Luckily there is evidence for the glamorous garden that Queen Elizabeth I's favourite, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester laid out in the 16th century. The queen had given the castle to Dudley in 1563 and visited him there several times. By 1571, building in the local red sandstone, like previous owners, he had added a sumptuous new wing with apartments for the queen; and then by 1575, in anticipation of a further visit by Elizabeth that July, he had created a wonderful garden. Designed both to be enjoyed at ground level and to be viewed from above, it was a rectangular garden in the latest Renaissance style laid out to the north of the oldest part of the castle, but inside the curtain wall. In addition to offering horticultural, sensory and intellectual delights, it would also act as a theatrical back-drop to some of the entertainments with which Leicester proposed to divert Elizabeth and her court over a three-week stay. These included bear-baiting, pageants and nautical displays on the Great Mere and one of the guests was Sir Thomas Tresham (see PXX), who was knighted by the queen during her visit.
Elizabeth would have caught her first glimpse of the garden from a small Italianate courtyard which Leicester fitted alongside the Norman keep. [Kenilworth.4 DP083014] Then she would have moved down a flight of steps within the wall, emerging between pedestals surmounted with the bears of Leicester's crest onto a high terrace. Such terraces had become common on the Continent but this was among the first in England actually to be described as a terrace. On the steep garden side was a balustrade featuring obelisks and spheres on 'curious bases', all painted to look as though they were carved in red sandstone. The garden below was divided into four rectangular beds by two broad paths and, where they crossed, stood a magnificent white marble fountain. Its octagonal base was ornamented with raunchy scenes from Ovid's Metamorphoses and fish swam in the basin, while above two great Atlantes supported a sphere from which water was sprinkled from 'sundry pipes'. The sphere was topped by a ragged staff, another element of Leicester's crest.
Obelisks gave height to the centre of each bed, in appearance of porphyry, but probably of skilfully painted wood. [Kenilworth.5 DP083062 OR Kenilworth.6 DP083061 NB Please choose between these 2 images.] Like many parts of the garden, they had a symbolic as well as aesthetic purpose. Since Egyptian times, obelisks had represented Eternity - a reference which the aristocratic audience for this garden would have appreciated. There were arbours, too, and the fact that they were covered with eglantine roses, a symbol of virginity and so a reference to the Virgin Queen, would also have been comprehensible, as would the link between the spheres and wisdom. Elizabeth was one of the cleverest women in Europe and she would have easily 'read' such symbolism in all its multi-layered and sometimes ambiguous complexity - Biblical, mythological, chivalric.
Descending to ground level, Elizabeth could approach the aviary, a structure in classical style, 30 feet long, which contained exotic birds, imported from mainland Europe and as far away as Africa - a continent then scarcely explored. Their warbling and fluttering were as much an aspect of a garden's aesthetic pleasure in the late 16th century as sweet scents and bright colours.
After 1575, Elizabeth paid no more visits to Kenilworth. Leicester died in 1588 and, although some scholars have suggested that his prodigious garden was no more than a flimsy and temporary backdrop to the pageants presented during the queen's visit, there is evidence that it survived to be updated in the early 1600s. A Parliamentary survey shows that the fountain was still there 75 years after its creation, but when the castle's main buildings were ordered to be 'slighted' and made uninhabitable after the Civil War, Kenilworth's garden and the fountain were destroyed in the process. The Parliamentarians also drained the Great Mere, and the fertile acres left behind have been used for agriculture ever since.
Yet, even without being dramatically reflected in its waters, by the late 18th century the castle's impressive ruins had become one of the most famous Picturesque sights in the country. Sir Walter Scott capitalised on their Romantic qualities by using the castle as a setting in his novel Kenilworth, which tells a version of the Elizabeth and Dudley story. His picture of Leicester's unfortunate wife, Amy Robsart, falling to her death in the middle of the queen's visit is one that many readers found highly convincing, but Scott had been quite cavalier with the historical facts. Amy's unexplained death had actually taken place 15 years earlier and (as Scott does make plain) many miles away, but the castle came to be associated more with this infamous episode than with any real events that took place there.
Leicester's garden eventually became a kitchen garden and orchard, while his gatehouse, which was spared when the castle was slighted and turned into a house by the Parliamentary commander, remained inhabited until well into the last century. [Kenilworth.7 DP083142] In 1937 the castle was bought by the motor manufacturer, John Davenport Siddeley, who that year was made 1st Baron Kenilworth. He created very livable apartments for his family in the gatehouse and a small garden in front of it, which has recently been renovated in a way that retains its 1940s flavour. (Surprisingly, it never became a 'dig for victory' vegetable garden.) After his son gave the castle to the town of Kenilworth in 1958, management became the responsibility of the Ministry of Works, from whom English Heritage took over in 1984.
In 2003 the decision was taken to research the garden Robert Dudley had made outside the keep, and create an evocation of it - something which would delight modern visitors as his had delighted the first Queen Elizabeth. A 'Tudor-style' garden had in fact been made on the site in the 1970s, but this was not as authentic as it could have been. Designed by Harry Gordon Slade, one of the Ministry's Inspectors, it had yew trees and box hedges around beds filled with lavender. [Kenilworth.8 K020679] His plan was based partly on a plate in The Antiquities of Warwickshire, published by antiquarian Sir William Dugdale in 1656, and partly on wishful thinking, since the archaeology carried out in preparation had yielded little solid information and certainly not the lay-out of paths pictured by Dugdale.
Unfortunately, thirty years on, as the yews matured, their roots began to grow deep into the soil and it was feared they might cause damage to anything buried beneath. And, of course, a fresh generation of archaeologists was itching to use new techniques, such as geophysics, on this potentially rich site. To guide where they dug, and indicate what they might hope to find, they were aided by a long letter written by Robert Langham, a former London mercer who held a post as gentleman-usher to Leicester, describing the queen's 1575 visit. Although ostensibly addressed to a friend, Humfrey Martyn, the letter was almost certainly intended for publication - or at least for circulation amongst the gentry in London - and Leicester himself was most likely aware of its contents, so flattering is it to his person, his garden and his ambition.
Langham (sometimes written Laneham) recounts how his 'good friend Adrian' (Leicester's gardener) let him in through a door in the enclosed garden while the queen was out hunting. Although there were at first many reservations about the extent to which Langham may have exaggerated the garden's splendour in order to increase his master's glory - and his own in being there to see it - he seems to have been a reliable witness. He was correct, for instance, about describing the fountain centre-piece of the garden as 'of rich and hard white marble'. This was corroborated when the archaeologists found several chips of white marble attached to the fountain foundations which, when analysed, could be traced to the famous quarries at Carrara in Italy. The new fountain was therefore specially made of marble from Carrara, and the erotic scenes from Ovid's Metamorphoses on its base have been carved by hand as they would have been in the Renaissance. [Kenilworth.9 DP083128]
The archaeologists also located the foundations of the fountain, proving that it was indeed octagonal as Langham described, and it has been replaced exactly where they proved it had been originally. Among other discoveries were a culvert to bring water in (possibly from a spring on Camp Farm a few miles away, where an Elizabethan conduit head is said to have been found in the 19th century), an outlet pipe, and a cavity nearby which may have been used as a cistern to catch surplus water which could be used for watering the garden. Sadly, no trace was found of the water jokes mentioned by Langham but something of the kind has been reinstated. These jets, a popular feature of aristocratic gardens for several centuries, could be switched on to shower unwary guests with water and amuse those who stayed dry.
Nothing of the aviary had survived above or below ground, a lack of evidence suggesting that, like the terrace balustrade and the obelisks, it was made of painted wood - and so Langham's description was used in its re-creation. The holes in the back wall for the birds to roost in have been included in the reconstruction but, as modern minds are more sensitive to animal cruelty than those of the Elizabethans, English Heritage took advice from a specialist on the best way to care for the birds.
Another crucial element of the garden would have been the pleasure of picking and eating fresh fruit. Langham mentions that the beds of Leicester's garden were planted with strawberries (which would not at all have resembled modern varieties but been more like Alpine strawberries) [Kenilworth.10 DP083027]. He also mentions eating cherries from the trees, along with apples and pears - though these would not have been ripe when the queen was there in July. So apples, pears, cherries and strawberries have all been planted in the new garden.
Much effort has gone into tracing what else Leicester's gardeners might have grown. Langham mentions the diversity of the flowers and how sweetly they smelled, but nothing by name, not even the 'gillyflower', one of the most popular plants in the period. Today the word is taken to mean 'carnation' (Dianthus), but in the 16th century it also referred to other flowers with a strong scent, including stocks, wallflowers, Sweet Williams and the lesser-known Sweet Johns - all of which have been included in the beds. Apart from fruit, the only trees Langham refers to specifically are hollies in the aviary. Topiary was an important part of gardens in this period and therefore Ilex Crataegus, Laurus nobilis and Cornus mas have been planted to provide height to the beds. [Kenilworth.11 DP083070 AND Kenilworth.12 DP083042 AND Kenilworth.13 DP083155 NB All 3 to be used here.]
The new garden cost £2.1 million (including research); some of this was raised locally but the Wolfson Foundation was also a major contributor. The aviary, loggias, staircases and posts are all in English oak, and the trellis is in chestnut. Some of this wood is painted as it would have been originally, for the Tudors liked their gardens to be extremely colourful, with red and green paint besides the bright flowers and birds.
As well as reproducing the structure and planting of Leicester's garden as closely as possible, English Heritage had to incorporate features which would make it compatible with modern legal requirements. For instance, in Elizabethan times, after the garden had been well considered from above, those who wished to wander in it, and perhaps taste its fruit or feed the birds, probably had to descend an extremely steep staircase. For today's visitors a second, less steep, staircase has been built - outside the perimeter of the original garden so as not to compromise its integrity - and equipped with a chair-lift for the disabled.
With some of the most spectacular ruins in England, and so many links to great men and women, the castle at Kenilworth has always been one of English Heritage's most popular sites. Following the formal opening of the new 'Renaissance' garden in April 2009, the most important phase of its long life became brilliantly illuminated.
[Kenilworth design extra.14 DP083182 AND Kenilworth design extra.15 DP083153] NB These 2 design extras can be used anywhere in this chapter if ther's room.
[Text Box] Extracts from Robert Langham letter
'… his Honour's exquisite appointment of a beautiful garden, an acre or more in quantity, that lieth on the north there: Wherein hard all along by the Castle wall, is reared a pleasant terrace, ten feet high, and twelve feet broad, even under foot, and fresh of fine grass; …by sundry equal distances, with obelisks, and spheres, and white bears, all of stone upon their curious bases, by goodly shew were set; To these, two fine arbours redolent by sweet trees and flowers, at each end one…'
'Where, further also, by great cast and cost, the sweetness of savour on all sides, made so respirant from the redolent plants and fragrant herbs and flowers, in form, colour, and quantity so deliciously variant; and fruit-trees bedecked with apples, pears, and ripe cherries.'
'… a square cage, sumptuous and beautiful, joined hard to the north wall…of a rare form and excellency was raised: in height twenty feet, thirty long, and fourteen broad. … four great windows, in front, and two at each end, every one five feet wide... Under the cornice again, every part beautified with great diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and saphires : pointed, tabled, rock and round, and garnish'd with gold; by skilful head and hand, and by toil and pencil so lively expressed as it might be great marvel and pleasure to consider how near excellency of Art could approach unto perfection of Nature.'
'In the centre, as it were, of this goodly garden, was there placed a very fair fountain, cast into an eight-square, reared four feet high; from the midst whereof, a column upright, in shape of two Athlants, joined together a back half; the one looking east, the other west, with their hands upholding a fair-formed bowl of three feet over; from whence sundry fine pipes did lively distil continual streams into the reservoir of the fountain, maintained still two feet deep by the same fresh falling water; wherein pleasantly playing to and fro, and round about, carp, tench, bream, and for variety, pearch and eel, fish fair-liking all, and large : In the top, the ragged staff; which, with the bowl, the pillar, and eight sides beneath, were all hewn out of rich and hard white marble.'
'A garden then so appointed, as wherein aloft upon sweet shadowed walk of terrace, in heat of summer, to feel the pleasant whisking wind above, or delectable coolness of the fountain-spring beneath, to taste of delicious strawberries, cherries, and other fruits, even from their stalks, to smell such fragrancy of sweet odours, breathing from the plants, herbs, and flowers, to hear such natural melodious music and tunes of birds, to have in eye for mirth sometime these underspringing streams… the fruit-trees, the plants, the herbs, the flowers, the change in colours, the birds flittering, the fountain streaming, the fish swimming, all in such delectable variety, order, and dignity; whereby, at one moment, in one place, at hand, without travel, to have so full fruition of so many God's blessings, by entire delight unto all senses (if all can take) at once.'