Thomas Hill's design

The maze at Theobalds

The current maze
(Photo: Green Flag Award)

The Tudor period saw mazes rise in popularity, as they transformed otherwise plain & simple gardens into impressive and very fashionable ones. There was a maze at Theobalds, which followed a design inspired by one featured in the 1594 edition of Thomas Hill's Gardener's Labyrinth, the first garden textbook written in English. By 1609, the maze had been removed from Theobalds to make way for James I's 'Maze Garden' (changed to 'Privy Garden' in 1650). A re-creation based on the original design was planted in recent years.

Italians drew plans for garden labyrinths in the 15th century, but they were not popularised until the 16th, when palaces across Europe began adding them as features to impress visitors. Louis XIV of France had a puzzle maze built for him at the Palace of Versailles, which included sculptures of Ancient Greek fable characters. King William III had several mazes at his properties.