Tudor Gardens
from 1485 to 1603

Influenced by new ideas of architecture arriving from France and Italy, Richmond Palace was built c.1501 with long galleries to display sculpture and paintings, panelled windows and inner courtyards for leisure. Other features included obelisks bearing painted heraldic beasts and banners, ‘pleasaunt galerys and housis of pleasure to disporte inn’ [1] and knot gardens which were to become a common element in sixteenth century gardens. Knot gardens were usually geometric beds enclosed by low hedges of clipped evergreens and filled with a variety of patterns or designs and symmetrical on both axes.

The gardens at Hampton Court (c1529) were created to celebrate the ‘triumphant reigne’ [2] of Henry VIII. Features included the Pond Yard (which included a knot garden), the Privy Orchard, the Privy Garden and the Mount Garden.

Mounts were becoming increasingly popular and at Hampton Court, Henry built his near the entrance gate. Apart from being used to see over the garden and the landscape beyond, mounts also took on allegorical meaning, and for Henry they also illustrated his dominance. To emphasize this, Henry built a two-storey banqueting house at the summit, topped by a gilded crown.

Banqueting houses or ‘types’ were used for entertaining, especially for eating and usually had windows so that the family and their guests could look out over the garden and the wider landscape. It was also somewhere to escape from the prying eyes of servants. Some were built on the roof (Lacock Abbey, Hardwick Hall) while others were part of the formal garden.

The Tudor period also saw the publication of The Profitable Art of Gardening, the first book by an Englishman which was ‘exclusively dedicated to the subject of gardening.’ [3] Gardening was reaching a wider audience with many different trades springing up including ‘botanists, florists, fruit-growers, herbalists, horticulturists, market gardeners, nurserymen, plant merchants, seedsmen and sowers’. [4] 

Birds were also an integral part of the spiritual enjoyment with the Elizabethans believing gardens were ‘a canvas for earthly pleasure and spiritual enrichment’. [5]

[1] Paula Henderson, The Architecture of the Tudor Garden; Garden History  Vol. 27, No. 1, Tudor Gardens (Summer, 1999), p.57

[2] Edward Hall, The Triumphan Reigne of Kyng Henry the VIII. Edited by Charlaes Whibley, London, 1904.

[3] Jill Francis, Order and Disorder in the Early Modern Garden, 1558-c.1630, Garden History, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Spring, 2008), pp. 22-35, p. 23

[4] Melvyn Barnes, Root and Branch: A History of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners of London (London: Worshipful Company of Gardeners, 1994), p. 31; as quoted in Jill Francis, Order and Disorder in the Early Modern Garden, 1558-c.1630, Garden History, Vol. 36, No. 1 (Spring, 2008), pp. 22-35 p.28

[5] Elisabeth Woodhouse, Spirit of the Elizabethan, Garden History,Vol. 27, No. 1, (Summer, 1999), pp.10-31, p.14

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