Apr 262017

House/pet sitting in nearby Cambridge, N.Z., allows us to drive to the Hamilton Gardens. There are two Renaissance Gardens, one is Italian and the other is English. There are similarities in the planning of both with the thought that God’s creation and the universe was based on order through geometric patterns. Symbolism for both gardens was important and both borrowed from other countries.

Have You Heard of Didymus Mountain?

Sixteen century planned by Didymus

I had not until I researched how Tudor gardens were designed and planted. Didymus Mountain was the pen-name of 16th century writer Thomas Hill. He designed the knot garden

. I found these images on the web.
Around the gardens were placed mythical beasts with an arbour. The Elizabethan wall and its stone pavilion was a copy from a pavilion at Montacute House

Tudor Garden Entertainment

The aristocracy loved to host fantasy plays or ‘masques.’ Masques were a favourite of the English royalty and gentry. Originally, they began as an event that followed a nobleman’s wedding. Masqued performers would dance and play music and reveal their identity at the end by removing their masks.

Mask plays

The Tudor Pavilion

This delightful building was often used by the family for special personal events. From the windows, the family would often enjoy special desserts such as marzipan that would be accompanied by sweet spiced wine. This was an opportunity for poetry recitals or musicians.

Fantasy and Mythical Beasts

Most tudor gardens boasted of beasts on green and white striped poles. These were the colours of the ruling Tudors. Typically, the beasts would include the following: unicorn, sea serpent, dragon, phoenix, centaur or a griffin. William Shakespeare’s character “Bottom”( the donkey) would be a talking piece and an honour to Shakespeare’s play, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Tudor flags combined the York and Lancaster roses that represented both houses in the War of the Roses. The following beasts represented Tudor monarchs and famous persons.


Mythical Beasts

Griffin: King Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547)

Dragon: Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603) famous for the offspring of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

Unicorn: Mary, Queen of Scots (reigned 1542-1567

Centaur: Sir Thomas More (lawyer, statesman, social philosopher, Lord Chancellor under Henry VIII

Phoenix: Sir Francis Drake (privateer, slaver, sailor)

Satyr: Sir Francis Bacon (lawyer, natural philosopher, historian, writer, scientist)

Sea Serpent: Sir Walter Raleigh (writer, poet, soldier, aristocrat, privateer)

Donkey: William Shakespeare (playwright, poet)

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