|HCC Site ID:||1603||Parish:||Winchester|
|Access:||Public Access-check opening times of the Great Hall, Winchester Castle||Ownership:||Hampshire County Council|
Location and Site
Queen Eleanor’s garden is situated on the south side of the Medieval Great Hall of Winchester Castle.
Historic Development and Current Description
The garden is named after Queen Eleanor of Provence, wife of Henry III and her daughter-in-law Queen Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward I.
This south side of the Great Hall was originally the front of the Hall and the wall facing it is the base of the King’s House, never completed, built by Sir Christopher Wren. Little is known of Winchester Castle gardens apart from a mention of herbaria, columbaria and falcon houses so the garden has been created from descriptions of other royal residences of the thirteenth century. Its creation was a joint venture between Hampshire County Council and Hampshire Gardens Trust and was designed by Dr Sylvia Landsberg with John Harvey as consultant and co-designer. It was opened by HM the Queen Mother on 8 July, 1986, as part of the Domesday 900 celebrations. It is the first example of an authentically constructed and planted medieval garden in Britain, so is of great educational value.
All the stonework in the garden is Purbeck limestone ashlar as used in the Castle. The seats are copied from the window-sill seats in the Great Hall, the fountain is copied from the tomb of Peter de Sancta Mario, 1296, in St Cross Hospital, and old stone paving has been incorporated. The details of the lead pool, bronze leopard heads and falcon are developed from a description of a fountain at Charing Cross Mews, written in 1272. The falcon has details taken from the unique wooden falcon, carved about 1305, in Winchester Cathedral choir stalls. A tunnel arbour is made from curved tree poles, tied together, supporting vines, roses and honeysuckle. The Queen’s Herber is a trellised corner with a floor of mixed wild flowers, turf seats and octagonal table. Queen Eleanor’s Coat of Arms is on the door arch. There is a wall turf seat as commonly seen in manuscripts of the time, and a bench made from 200 yr old oak and adapted from a nine foot long gothic bench in Winchester Cathedral. The Pentice could have connected the kitchens to the Great Hall and its oak shingles show how the Hall would have been roofed. All the plants, mostly native, would have been grown in 13th century gardens.
Queen Eleanor’s Garden is a re-created, authentically planted, medieval castle garden of the thirteenth century in the time of Henry III and Edward I and their Queen. It was opened in 1986.
Information from Hampshire Gardens Trust: November 2003