Medieval Gardens
The Middle Ages to 1500

Gardens have long been associated with the image of paradise. The hospital of St Giles in Norwich was founded in 1246 and had a walled herb garden, kitchen garden, orchards, a landscape garden for the ‘Master’ and a ‘paradyse’ garden for the monks.

There was a close relationship between health and the environment and herbs were grown in the ‘physic garden’ for medicinal use; the raised, geometrically-shaped beds were usually enclosed within wattle or quickthorn hedges. The advantage of scented flowers to human psychology was also recognised. Albert Magnus, the philosopher, theologian and Dominican Friar wrote:

There should be a great range of medicinal and aromatic herbs, so that they will not only delight the sense of smell by their perfume but will also refresh the sight with the variety of their flowers, and prompt admiration at their great diversity in those who look upon them. [1]

Monasteries and manor houses were self-sufficient, growing vegetables for the house and their community as well as having orchards, dovecotes, breweries and stew ponds for keeping fish.

[1] Albertus Magnus, De Vegetabilus, c.1250, p. 638 quoted in  Carole Rawcliffe, ‘Delectable Sightes and Fragrant Smelles’: Gardens and Health in Late Medieval and Early Modern England; Garden History, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Spring, 2008), p.12

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