One of the main attractions of Kenilworth Castle is the reconstructed Elizabethan garden. They have a remarkable history of their own, set aside from that of the castle. Lost for more than 400 years, the garden which Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, created for Elizabeth I has been recreated to its former glory by English Heritage. It is the first ever recreation of an Elizabethan garden on such a scale and as you’ll see, they have done a quite remarkable job.
The garden could be so accurately recreated because of a letter written by a Robert Langham, a member of Leicester’s household, in which he describes all of the important features. The audio guide directs you first up to the terrace so that you can get a full overview of the design of the garden and which is flanked at either end by these incredibly beautiful arbours, recreated here from an engraving made by a 16th century French architect Jacques Androuet du Cerceau.
The garden is divided into quarters, with each quarter divided into two areas with plants designed into various shapes, some of which I didn’t truly appreciate until I was sorting through my photos.
The one item which immediately draws the eye though is the fountain, located in the middle of the garden. Made out of white marble from Italy the fountain depicts two Athlants (mythological giants who held up the sky), in this case holding up a sphere.
The panels which form the base of the fountain depict scenes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the first English edition of which was dedicated to Leicester.
The eye, and ear!, is also drawn to the aviary, decorated with Leicester’s initials. The very colourful birds which reside there now are all domesticated but unfortunately the meshing which keeps them in place didn’t lend itself to good photography of the interior.
The garden with the castle as its backdrop does provide a spectacular look into the Elizabethan world and absolutely well worth a visit. As ever there are many more photos, including of the castle itself, at my Flickr here.