Members' Exclusive Content
Image: Walmer Castle and Gardens

Our Historic Gardens

Discover the stories and history of our beautiful gardens, from Belsay in Northumberland down to Walmer Castle in Kent, and be inspired to plan your own visit today. 

Image: Robert Dudley and Elizabeth I re-enactors at Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden

Kenilworth's Elizabethan Garden

In July 1575, Elizabeth stayed at Kenilworth Castle for 19 days. It was her longest stay at the castle, and the garden and plants were designed and selected to be in their prime for the duration of her visit. 

The garden was lost for centuries, but in 2009 we brought it back to life, basing our meticulous recreation on careful research and the survival of an eye-witness description by a courtier. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of its opening, in 2019 we rejuvenated the garden and added even more features, including refreshed paths and flower beds, a reconstructed garden gate and a new children's trail. 

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Historic Gardens

Image: terrace at Osborne

From sweeping vistas to organic vegetables, English Heritage cares for a number of historic gardens and landscapes around the country. We asked our Members which sites have the best gardens and why, see if your favourite makes the list. 

Below you can also learn more about the history of gardens through the ages, including those created by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the 18th-century pioneer who radically changed the world of landscape gardening.

See our Members' top five gardens
  • Colour in an Elizabethan Garden

    Create your own vibrant landscape with our colouring in sheet depicting an Elizabethan garden. 

  • Tips from our experts

    Here are our historic gardeners' top tips for protecting your plants and produce at home.

  • Gardens through time

    Trace the evolution of gardens in England, from the Romans to the 20th century.

  • Capability Brown at Audley End

    How a contract in 1763 between Capability Brown and a landowner deteriorated into a war of words.

  • Conserving meadows

    Discover the importance of meadows as an endangered English habitat and what we do to preserve them.

  • Kenwood's West Meadow

    Kenwood's Head Gardener Paul Jackson talks through how we harvest the West Meadow each year. 

  • Behind the Scenes at Belsay

    Go behind the scenes of the stunning 30-acre grade 1 listed gardens at Belsay Hall and Castle. 

  • Plot to Plate

    Discover how Walmer Castle’s expert team grow and prepare delicious seasonal produce. 

Gardening stories from our blog

  • The language of flowers

    Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a bunch of flowers. But during the 19th century, a bunch of flowers could do much more than that. The Victorians went as far to develop their own floral language and you can learn it too.

  • Garden like a medieval monk

    Being a monk is a commitment for life – and during the medieval period it certainly wasn’t an easy calling. Discover what life was like for a monk at the time, including their responsibilities in the garden. 

  • Medieval Herb garden

    A monastery’s infirmary herb garden grew specialist plants that were used in medieval medicine to help the body heal itself. Here are nine plants that you’d find there which you can still grow in your own herb garden today.

  • Running an Organic Garden

    Audley End House and Gardens is home to a two-and-a-half acre walled garden that produces a variety of plants that were popular during its Victorian heyday. Find out how we run it today while keeping to the Victorian style. 

Focus on the Home of Charles Darwin, Down House

Image: Family at Down House

With its unique place in the history of science and evolution Down House was Charles Darwin’s family home and is a site of outstanding international significance. Enjoy a day out in the grounds that were Darwin’s ‘outdoor laboratory’ where he spent many hours making observations and conducting experiments that helped develop his ground-breaking theories. Stroll down Darwin’s ‘thinking path', take a wander past bountiful vegetable patches and enjoy fragrant flower beds surrounded by the tranquil countryside.

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  • Join naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham on a tour of Down House, the inspiration for much of Darwin's love of nature and the environment.

  • Discover what being the Head Gardener of Charles Darwin’s home is really like with this exclusive interview with Rowan Blaik. 

  • Rowan Blaik explains the role Charles Darwin’s former home and its grounds played in helping him to formulate his theories on natural selection.

  • Our Head Gardener at Down House, Rowan Blaik, offers his top tips for planning a kitchen garden and how to ensure seedling success.

Postcards from our gardens

  • Audley End House and Gardens, Essex

  • Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens

  • Brodsworth Hall and Gardens, South Yorkshire

  • Eltham Palace and Gardens, Cumbria

  • Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire

  • Osborne, Isle of Wight

  • Walmer Castle and Gardens, Kent

  • Witley Court and Gardens, Worcestershire

  • Wrest Park, Bedfordshire

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