Henry II supposedly built a hedge maze at Woodstock, with a hedged arbour at the centre, designed for trysts with his mistress Rosamund Clifford. As it happens, this is probably an apocryphal story, an “urban myth” that was passed on because it was an amusing and salacious story. Either way it helped to popularise hedge mazes in subsequent centuries, possibly because it gave them a faint promise of sensuality.
This is an sixteenth-century poem about “Rosamond’s Bower”, which comes from “A Mournfull Dittie on the death of Rosamond, King Henry the Seconds Concubine” by Thomas Deloney. (Here the hedge has been hyped up into “stone and timber”.)Yea, Rosamond, Fair Rosamond, Her name was called so, To whom dame Elinor our Queene Was known a deadly foe, The King therefore for her defense Against the furious Queene At Woodstock builded such a Bower The like was never seen. Most curiously that Bower was built Of stone and timber strong, An hundred and fifty dores Did to this Bower belong, And they so cunningly contriv’d With turnings round about That none but with a clew of thread Could enter in or out.
(It’s worth noting that the “clew of thread” detail almost certainly derives from older labrynth legends such as the Minotaur. Possibly a rumour about the king’s trysts became mixed up with older stories to create the story of “Rosamund’s Bower”.)