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Chair’s Welcome

I am delighted as Chair of the Friends to welcome you to our website. Bushy Park and Home Park are two wonderful large green oases in the south west corner of London. Feeling wild, they are natural places with ancient histories, fascinating heritage and superb wildlife. Both are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) containing rare species. These are places to be enjoyed and conserved. Which is why the Friends exist, campaigning, supporting and protecting the parks, and enhancing visitors’ enjoyment with information, advice and guidance.

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Saturday Walk: Hampton Court Palace Chapel Court Tudor Garden

Saturday Walk: Hampton Court Palace Chapel Court Tudor Garden

Friends in Courtyard Garden

Walk led by Terry Gough, 25 July 2009

Visit the photo gallery for this report.

With a group of 88 behind him Terry Gough, Garden and Estates Manager of Hampton Court Palace, led us through several “Private”, “No Public Access” and “No Admittance” doors and gates to the recently completed Chapel Court Tudor Garden, where we were greeted by the Palaces Group Director, Rod Giddins who had kindly granted us free entry to the Courtyard and the gardens.

Friends in Courtyard Garden

The garden is enclosed on all sides by high brick walls, yet is a light and airy space, although in winter it will get very little direct sunlight. Since Henry VIII’s time it has had many uses. In 1701 it was cleared of rubbish and planted as an orchard. Then it was laid to lawn with a couple of trees, and at one time was even a burial site.

The present garden is a recreation of a garden of Henry VIII’s time, although this space was not like this at the time. It has taken two years to transform what was a dull and dingy space into a beautiful garden laid out with beds, paths, rails and heraldic beasts on poles.

The design is based on paintings and drawings of the period. It is known that Henry had many of his gardens at all his palaces made to this type of design. The eight beds are surrounded by a Flower Mead surround, that is wild flowers that are allowed to grow through the grass, once established the grass will be cut and have a neater appearance. The beds have a wide range of plants for medicine, eating and just for display. All the plants are plants that were used 500 years ago.

Jane Seymour’s panther

The Tudor Rose is fictitious but in the garden there are the two roses of white and red, being the emblems of York and Lancaster which combined to make the Tudor Rose.The eight Kings’ beasts set in each of the beds represent the emblems of various kings and royal dukes. These have been carved in wood and decorated at great expense, so may well be taken in during the winter. Among them are Richard I’s lion, to the Greyhound of the Richmonds, and Anne Boleyn’s leopard which after Henry’s “falling out” with her he changed into Jane Seymour’s panther.

All the beds are surrounded by green and white rails. These were the colours used by Henry and many of his gardens reflected these colours in the rails and posts which support the beasts. Chertsey tiles were known to be used in the flowers beds and this too has been faithfully recreated.

Orangery Garden

It was a fascinating tour of this new garden, but our morning continued with a walk inside the Lower Orangery Garden. The gate is usually locked and the public may only view the garden from the walkway above. This garden was finished a couple of years ago, but the garden – 200 years later than the Courtyard Garden is an accurate reconstruction of how the garden actually looked at the time of William III.

Delft pots

It is laid out in a very formal manner. Between the gravel paths are beds which in themselves don’t contain many plants but in the summer months coloured pots with many exotic plants, flowers and herbs are arranged on wooden boards which protect the pots from damage and keep them cleaner so that they can be taken into the Orangery for the winter months. The pots, many of them Delft, were as valuable as the plants.

Dolphin Fountain.
Photo by Owen Jones

There is a dolphin fountain in the garden which is difficult to see usually, as it is tucked in under the wall. One would expect it to be in the middle of the garden, as indeed it was before the garden was extended. The Orangery Garden is opposite the Privy Garden and a story goes that King William was disappointed that he couldn’t see the river from his apartments, so he had the Privy Garden lowered by eight feet, so he could have his river view.

It had been a most interesting morning and Terry’s depth of knowledge and his enthusiasm was very much appreciated by all.

Report by Pieter Morpurgo, Photos by Pieter Morpurgo except where otherwise stated. July 2009

Why we need more Friends

With more members our voice is stronger when we campaign to protect the Parks, and with more subscription income we can do more to provide information and education about the Parks, their wildlife and their history.

Join us today!

Walks & Talks

Forthcoming event

Thursday, 23rd Nov 8:00 pm

The Royal Parks in the Great War. Talk by David Ivison

Latest report

A perimeter walk of Home Park led by Nicholas Garbutt was enjoyed by over 45 people on 2nd September.Walk in Home Park- 2nd September

Full report...

Information Point

The Information Point next to the Pheasantry Welcome Centre café is where our volunteers help visitors to find out more about the parks and where visitors can purchase souvenirs of your visit to support our work.

Click this panel to visit our Information Point section and also to find out how you can get involved as a volunteer.