Press release

21 March 2016

21 March 2016

Discover an imaginative new play garden for families, inspired by the myths and legends of the Tudor Court

This Easter, an exciting new play garden for families will cast its spell over Hampton Court Palace for the first time. Populated by mysterious mythical beasts, with battlements to storm, towers to besiege, and even a secret grotto to discover, the Magic Garden will be a new and unique way for families to explore the palace’s past. Designed by RHS Chelsea award-winning landscape architect Robert Myers for Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that cares for Hampton Court Palace, the new garden has been six years in the making and begins an exciting new chapter in the palace’s 500 year history.

Set within King Henry VIII’s former Tiltyard, where the elaborate spectacle of the Tudor tournament played out, the new garden takes inspiration from the fairytale-like quality of the Tudor Palace. Hampton Court was King Henry’s ‘pleasure palace’, where he indulged his love of hunting, and dazzled visitors with awe-inspiring architecture adorned with heraldry and mythical beasts. The rich history and legends of the Tudor court are reinterpreted in the new garden: from the playful ‘perspective pergola’, reflecting changing fortunes in a tumultuous time, to the ‘wild wood’, evoking the hunting grounds the Tudor King knew and loved.

An immersive world, every element of the garden has been designed for discovery and exploration. Hampton Court Palace’s famous five ‘lost’ Tiltyard Towers are recreated in the garden, each reflecting a different aspect of the Tudor era. The bright King’s and Queen’s towers offer the best vantage point over the arena, where budding young knights can recreate the battles of the age, whilst the Discovery Tower represents the Tudor fascination with exploration. The Battle tower symbolises King Henry’s warlike spirit, whilst the topsy-turvy ‘Lost Tower’ calls to mind the eventual fate of the towers.

While palace curators have advised on the history retold in the garden, the renowned Historic Royal Palaces’ gardens team have been hard at work, growing and tending to hundreds of trees and plants to create the garden’s magical landscape. Over 17,000 bulbs and 3,000 shrubs have been planted in the garden, including a winding pathway of ‘strange topiary’ at the entrance, and a jungle of tree ferns and fatsias that could well conceal a few monsters in the Mythical Beast’s Lair!

Master of all he surveyed, King Henry VIII liked to view his gardens from up high, and even had a special mount built at Hampton Court for that purpose.   The garden is topped off by a bejewelled crown based on a recreation of the King’s own, which is on display in the palace’s Chapel Royal. However, the real crowning glory of the garden is a 25ft long sleeping dragon, who will awaken as the palace’s clock strikes every hour. Prepare for a shock: his eyes gleam, and he breathes steam!

For more information and images, please contact Laura Hutchinson in the Historic Royal Palaces Press Office: [email protected]/ 0203 166 6338/07990 726 229

Tracy Borman, Joint Chief Curator, Historic Royal Palaces, said: ‘We’re thrilled that our new Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace is at last ready to reveal its secrets. It’s been an ambitious project for us, and we’re delighted with the result: a completely new and engaging way to experience Hampton Court’s fascinating, 500 year story. Every historian remembers the moment they first fell in love with history – and we are hoping to inspire generations of budding young historians to join us inside the palace to find out more!’

Notes for editors

Age range:

The Magic Garden is aimed at children of all ages. The wide variety of different play experiences on offer means there is something for all but we consider our main age group for children to be 2 to 13 years old.

Robert Myers Associates is a leading landscape architecture and urban design consultancy, with over 25 years’ experience. We provide a comprehensive service throughout the UK and overseas to a wide range of clients including architects, developers, educational institutions and historic sites, as well as private individuals. We see each project as a fresh opportunity for innovation and excellence, aiming to deliver strong, elegant and practical designs that offer the best solutions within the constraints of the site, the brief and the budget. Much of our work is concerned with sensitive and prestigious locations where awareness of the historic, aesthetic and planning context is key, and we have become specialists in integrating new development into important cultural or historic settings.

Frosts Landscape Construction Ltd Established for over 40 years, and based in Milton Keynes, Frosts Landscape Construction Ltd is part of a family-owned group of companies that remain at the cutting edge of the landscape industry.

Our wealth of experience in all aspects of commercial and domestic landscaping enables us to provide a highly respected design and build service to Main Contractors, Developers, and Specifiers. Our involvement in some of the most prestigious landscape projects in the UK has led to Frosts’ name becoming synonymous with inspiration, innovation and quality.

We pride ourselves on our technical expertise and are currently considered one of the top landscaping companies in the UK.  This reputation has been recognised by leading industry bodies, including BALI, from which we have received over 50 awards, culminating most recently with the Grand Award in 2015.