Where to see gardens with medieval features

We care for some beautiful gardens that date back to the medieval period, between the middle ages and the 1500s. Rarely have entire gardens survived from this period, but individual elements like dovecotes and fishponds have stood the test of time and you can find them in several of our gardens.

Colourful poppies in the cottage style garden at Alfriston Clergy House, East Sussex

Alfriston Clergy House, East Sussex

This rare 14th-century thatched and timber-framed Wealden ‘hall house’ was the first building to be acquired by us in 1896. Situated in an idyllic setting it has a garden laid out in the 1920s by the then tenant Sir Robert Witt to evoke a medieval garden, with old-fashioned roses, topiary, a potager for vegetables, a herb garden and an orchard.

A view across the late summer garden towards Avebury Manor, Wiltshire

Avebury Manor, Wiltshire

Parts of the Manor are believed to date back to the 12th-century Benedictine priory. Although the garden was completely redesigned in the 20th century with raised walks, flower gardens and an orchard by Colonel and Mrs Jenner, a few elements of the original garden, such as some of the walls and hedges, have survived.

Baddesley Clinton seen across the moat, Warwickshire

Baddesley Clinton, Warwickshire

This ancient moated manor dates from the 15th century and was the home of the Ferrers family for 500 years. Today, amongst the delightful gardens, the original medieval stew ponds are a rare survival. These would have been connected by a system of wooden pipes to the moat and to the Long Ditch.

The south front of Buckland Abbey in Devon

Buckland Abbey, Devon

Originally dating from the 13th century, this Cistercian Abbey was transformed three hundred years later into a private home famously lived in by Sir Francis Drake. The gardens were redesigned in the 1990s with features that may be found in a medieval garden such as a flowery mead, or meadow, and formal beds fenced in by trellis with a fountain pool at its centre. There's also a box-edged garden of medicinal herbs.

The dovecote in the garden at Cotehele, Cornwall

Cotehele, Cornwall

The atmospheric garden at Cotehele provides a romantic setting for the ancient house surrounded by formal gardens, while down in the valley garden, today planted with tender and exotic plants, evidence of Cotehele’s long history can be found in the survival of the medieval stew ponds and the domed dovecote.

The view over the Half Moon Pond and weir of Studley Royal Water Garden towards Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire

Fountains Abbey, Yorkshire

The remains of this 12th-century Cistercian abbey are incorporated into the landscape of Studley Royal where the original mill ponds and a medieval deer park can still be found. This special place is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A view of half-timbered cottages with gardens, at Ightham Mote, Kent

Ightham Mote, Kent

A romantic medieval moated manor house described by David Starkey as 'one of the most beautiful and interesting of English country houses'. Set in a wooded valley, a sequence of water features may well be the original fishponds. Today the garden has been planted with formal beds, a nod to its medieval origins.

An open window at the Guildhall of Corpus Christi in the Market Place at Lavenham, Suffolk

Lavenham Guildhall, Suffolk

The garden of this timber framed building, one of the finest of its kind in Britain, contains plants used to dye medieval cloth from which the village derived its wealth. Madder and safflower produced reds and pinks, weld and cardoon provided yellows and greens while woad, elecampane and vipers bugloss yielded a blue dye. Teasels were used to finish the cloth. Regular exhibitions and demonstrations are given by the local Guild of Weavers, Spinners and dyers.

The view along Screens Passage at Stoneacre, Kent

Stoneacre, Kent

A 15th-century half-timbered yeoman’s house, a perfect example of a Wealden hall-house surrounded by a glorious restored, if not historically accurate, romantic garden together with an orchard and meadow to give a flavour of its medieval origins.