The Tudor Knot garden is a beautiful re-creation of a traditional garden full of period plants, a rose arbour and a tunnel of vines and water feature. It’s especially magical in late spring with rich scents of the different sorts of aromatic herbs and flowering plants for the bees. The perfect place to sit and enjoy a great coffee or tea from the café.
Tudor House’s garden was designed by garden historian Dr Sylvia Landsberg in the early 1980s. It was recreated from manuscripts and historical documents to show how it may have looked in the 1500s, while John Dawtrey owned Tudor House. It contains over 100 plants and flowers, formal pathways, and low box hedges in the form of a ‘knot’. This type of garden became popular in England in the 1500s following their introduction from Italy.
Cardinal Wolsey believed a garden should act as ‘refreshment of the very mind’. However, gardens were more than ornamental, also serving as a larder and an apothecary. Plants were chosen for their culinary or medicinal properties, and most of the plants grown within the garden had a use.
Formal gardens such as this one, however, were a sign of status during the Tudor Period. They were designed to complement the architecture of the house using formal lines and simple geometric shapes. This applied to features such as paths, walls, pools, statues, hedges, and topiary. The ornaments within Tudor House’s garden are representative of two of the early owners, John Dawtrey represented by the unicorn, and Richard Lyster by the stag.
Bees would have been kept for pollination and honey. Honey was one of the sweeteners that was used in Tudor cooking, as well as being an excellent natural medicine used to treat wounds and burns.
The museum building is part of the iconic Grade II* listed Civic Centre buildings, which were started in 1929. London architect E. Berry Webber designed the building as four interconnecting blocks faced with white Portland stone. The Duke of York (later King George VI) laid the foundation stone of the first section in 1930.
Written by Aaron Matthews