English Heritage recreates magnificent Elizabethan Garden at Kenilworth Castle

By Culture24 Staff | 30 April 2009
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a view of a garden with a fountain in the centre

The Elizabethan garden at Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire. Picture courtesy English Heritage / News Team International

More than 400 years after it was lost to the world, Elizabeth I's private garden at Kenilworth Castle has been recreated by English Heritage and will open to the public on Saturday May 2 2009 with a Bank Holiday weekend of pageantry and spectacle.

Experts have used a detailed 16th century description of the garden and carried out archaeological investigation to recreate the garden, which was designed by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, to impress Elizabeth I in 1575.

Stonemasons, master sculptors and specialist carpenters who worked on the recreation of London's Globe Theatre have incorporated a bejewelled aviary with pheasants, canaries and carved arbours. A carved marble fountain acts as the centrepiece of the garden.

a photo of a white marble fountain

The fountain at the Elizabethan garden at Kenilworth Castle. Picture courtesy Warwickshire English Heritage / Jerry Harpur

The garden was designed as a private garden for the Queen and her closest companions, but the gardener allowed Robert Langham, an official in Leicester's household, to have a snoop around.

Langham was overwhelmed by the garden and wrote a detailed description of it in a letter chronicling the lavish Kenilworth festivities of 1575, calling it "an entire delight unto all the senses."

an obelisk and flower beds

Detail of planting and obelisk, Elizabethan garden at Kenilworth Castle. Picture courtesy Warwickshire English Heritage / Jerry Harpur

"Leicester's garden was as much a work of art as it was of horticulture," said English Heritage Chief Executive Dr Simon Thurley. "Its re-creation, set among the sandstone ruins of his once splendid buildings, is a beautiful reminder of how sumptuous Elizabethan culture was."

Queen Elizabeth herself will personally inspect the garden this weekend, entertained by falconry displays and Elizabethan music.

For more information visit English Heritage only.

Watch a video about the garden reconstruction.

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