This is Hatfield’s knot garden, with its lovely low maze and topiaries.
The site of the garden originally lay under a wing of the house which was devastated by a fire in the early 19th century. The brick paths were handlaid by the prizewinning hedgelayer Larry Laird, from bricks recycled from a demolished bothy in the grounds, by hand. Although the garden was only created in the 1980s, the final result has the feel of a renaissance formal garden.
There is also a much larger yew maze in the east garden, which is a Victorian creation – this garden is only open to the public on designated days.
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”.)
This maze is from the garden of the John Paul Getty Museum in LA – it is called the Azalea Maze.
It’s always a moot point where a “border” becomes a “hedge”. Not sure I’d call this a hedge maze, but it’s fabulous either way.
(Thanks to Rachel, via Betsy, for the picture).