The knot garden

Knot gardens were developed in Tudor times, and are a rectangular bed upon which a pattern was outlined using box hedges. The more intricate or ‘beknotted’ the better.

The creator of knots

The design chosen for the knot garden comes from one of four laid out by the Rev Walter Stonehouse between 1631 and 1640 at his rectory in Darfield, South Yorkshire.  

Rev Stonehouses garden is displayed in a manuscript in the library at Magdalen College, Oxford and the original garden was still surviving as late as 1922.

As Stonehouse was a keen plantsman, the original would probably have been in-filled with box hedging and plants.

A bird's eye view

The best view of our knot garden is seen from the attic windows in the house. A great deal of care is taken each year when it’s trimmed – it’s a long job and can take up to three weeks.

The inspiration for knot gardens

Knot gardens are based on Renaissance designs used in many forms of indoor decoration such as fabrics, carpets, cushions and wall coverings.

Some gardens were intricate patterns involving low hedges intricately knotted together on a gravel base. These were small in scale and complete in themselves and were known as ‘closed knots’.

Visitors exploring the garden at Moseley Old Hall
Moseley Old Hall Knot Garden Visitors

©National Trust Images/James Dobson

Visitors exploring the garden at Moseley Old Hall

Others were simpler but more extensive and always enclosed and inward looking. These ‘open’ knots, like the one here at Moseley, were usually intended as a place to grow plants as well as an exercise in geometry.