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Terracotta Angel, c.1896
Watts Chapel, England

Photo ©: Jeff Saward/Labyrinthos

 

 

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Labyrinthos Photographic & Illustration Library

Argenville, France

Egeskov, Denmark

Villa Altieri, Rome, Italy

 

Hampton Court, England

Hampton Court, England

Hampton Court, England

Versailles, France

Choisy, France

Stra, Italy

Woburn Abbey, England

Krenkerup, Denmark

Herrenhausen, Hanover, Germany

Plan for garden maze by De Vries

Plan for garden maze by Puec

Hatfield House, England

Bridge End Gardens, England

Chevening, England

RHS Garden, S. Kensington, England

 

 

Belair Park, Adelaide, Australia

Bot. Gardens, Ballarat, Australia

Alcazar Palace, Seville, Spain

Mazes formed from tangled living hedges have been a feature of gardens and parks for at least six hundred years. The designs of these early garden mazes were often simple adaptations of the widespread single-path labyrinth designs. At first they were designed primarily for contemplative exercise of both mind and body, but they increasingly developed as places of gentle entertainment, somewhere to dally and engage in conversation, and with the inclusion of shaded bowers and other features, a place for romance.

During the 16th and early 17th centuries various gardening writers recommended them as an essential element of any well executed garden design and with full height hedges and more complex designs, they soon became a puzzle and a challenge (and therefore mazes in the true sense), and an increasingly popular feature in gardens across Europe. Although all of these early hedge mazes have been swept away by changes in gardening taste, contemporary documents, engravings and plans of estates and gardens often preserve details of their construction and design.

Historic Hedge Mazes

New Harmony, Indiana, USA

Photo ©: Jeff Saward/Labyrinthos

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We also have images and graphics of historic hedge mazes in America - click here to see some of our collection.

All of the images on this page (and many more besides!) are available in high resolution digital formats for licensed reproduction. For details of reproduction fees and permission procedures, send us an e-mail with details of your planned usage and format requirements. We have many more graphics and images in our archive and can produce plans and graphics to order. If you have specific requirements, please ask.

Imperial Gardens, Peking, China
Sorgvliet, Netherlands
Villa d'Este, Tivoli, Italy

Hedge mazes continued to flourish and develop during the late 17th and 18th centuries. Popular earlier designs continued to be repeated, and increasingly more grandiose and complex designs began to appear. The famous example from Hampton Court, planted c.1690, is probably the best-known and oldest survivor, but other hedge mazes from the early 18th century survive in France, Denmark and Italy. The creation of public parks and pleasure gardens during the 19th century also produced a number of interesting and pleasing maze designs, designed primarily to provide gentle entertainment and exercise for their owners and local people, and likewise a number of these mazes still survive. It was also during the late 18th and early 19th centuries that hedge mazes began to appear worldwide, as colonial tastes and settlers took the designs of favourite mazes to be re-created in gardens in new lands.

Labyrinthos has an extensive collection of old engravings, plans and graphics, as well as early photographs, of historic hedge mazes from around the world. Below is a selection from our archives.