Reflecting times when a garden was a source of food, healing and herbs for household use, the ‘Walled Garden’ will take you back to Medieval times. The design is faithful to the period, based on surviving features and garden styles of the 16th and early 17th century.
A Brief History of the Garden
The garden walls originally enclosed the formal pleasure garden of a brick Tudor mansion, built some time in the sixteenth century when Cressing Temple came into private ownership after the confiscation of church property by Henry VIII.
In the eighteenth century the mansion was pulled down and the site became a tenanted farm. There would have been no call for a formal garden and the walled garden became a sheltered and secure garden for vegetables, fruit trees, herbs and flowers for cutting.
When Essex County Council bought the site in 1987 the garden was laid out as the private garden of the previous owner, with vegetable plots, old fruit trees and roses.
But two of those involved in the acquisition of the site, John Hunter and Martin Wakelin, had the vision to reconstruct a Tudor pleasure garden such as once existed in the time of the mansion built by the Smyth family.
By 1996, their vision was realised, with the addition of a planting design by Sandra Nicholson of Writtle College.
The garden is a faithful reconstruction of late medieval and Tudor gardens, using painstaking research to achieve authenticity. Enclosed by the original Tudor brick wall, its centrepiece is a brick fountain with four spouts symbolising the four rivers of paradise as mentioned in Genesis.
A raised platform provides a vantage point from which to survey the patterns of the Tudor knot garden.
Planting is true to what we know of medieval and Tudor gardens and includes a knot garden with box hedging, a nosegay garden, arbour, medicinal plants and a vegetable garden. The garden was instantly recognised as a significant addition to those existing in the county, and to the small number of Tudor gardens to be found nationally.