Why see Hampton Court maze?
It's pretty famous
‘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.
Trace sound installation
Since May 2005, giggling children and scuttling feet have not been the only sounds reverberating through the hedges of the Maze - the final stage of the project was a new audio installation. Entitled Trace, this permanent art installation has been created by internationally renowned sound artists Greyworld, commissioned by Historic Royal Palaces through the Artpoint Trust.
Drawing on the idea of the historic maze as a place of furtive conversation and flirtation, Greyworld have created a gentle soundwork that affects the visitors' experience of their journey through the labyrinth. Visitors will be enticed along the green corridors, tempted by tantalising sounds - a fragment of music, a snatch of laughter, the seductive rustle of fine silks and the whispers of an illicit conversation - that will disappear around the winding paths.
At the centre of the Maze, touch-sensitive benches also create subtle sounds as visitors sit to relax and contemplate their journey into - and their strategy to find their way out of - the Maze! Over a thousand self-generating sounds have been incorporated into the Maze ensuring the visitor will never experience the work in the same way twice.
A literary setting
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.