The Elephant Hedge at Rockingham Castle

One of the most spectacular and weird hedges I have ever had the pleasure of encountering is the Elephant Hedge at Rockingham Castle.

Perched on a natural escarpment above the Welland Valley, Rockingham was built on the instructions of William the Conqueror and has been owned and gradually rebuilt by one family (the Watsons) for the best part of five centuries, since the crown relinquished it in the sixteenth century. The castle is an accumulation of different periods of architecture, with a heavy dose of Tudor.

Stern battlements give way on one side to a beautiful terraced lawn with views across the Midland countryside below. From there you can observe the typical local patterns of enclosed pastures, with white sheep dotting the green grass and darker hedges marking the field boundaries. It is easy to imagine the lawn hosting croquet games, with cucumber sandwiches and tea served in china cups.

Dividing this lawn from a formal garden area is the massive Elephant Hedge. It is a strange structure made up of smoothly trimmed, undulating curves that could be taken to suggest the monumental curves of elephants’ bodies. It is divided into two parallel sections, with a shaded walkway concealed in between, and an entrance halfway down the lawn side through which you can enter its depths. It is 450 years old, having survived a Royalist siege in the English Civil War, and all the many wars and upheavals that have happened since then.


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Filed under Historical Hedges, Notable Hedges

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