‘It is the most famous Maze in the history of the world, and immeasurably the one most visited.’ (Ernest Law, 1926)
The Maze at Hampton Court was designed by George London and Henry Wise and commissioned around 1700 by William III. Originally planted using hornbeam and later replanted using yew, the Hampton Court Maze covers a third of an acre, is trapezoid in shape and is the UK's oldest surviving hedge maze.
The Maze itself is referred to as a multicursal or puzzle maze and is known for confusing and intriguing visitors with its many twists, turns and dead ends. Before the creation of the Hampton Court Maze, unicursal or single path mazes were the most popular form of maze in the UK. Unlike the puzzle maze, the single path maze has one path, usually in a spiral shape, winding to a centre point.
The Hampton Court Maze in Three Men in a Boat
‘We’ll just go in here, so that you can say you’ve been, but it’s very simple. It’s absurd to call it a maze. You keep on taking the first turning to the right. We’ll just walk around for ten minutes, and then go and get some lunch.’
So said Harris, from Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat (1889). The tourists he led into the Maze subsequently got lost for hours.