The castle Gardens were usually vast and quite elaborate at a medieval castle. Mazes, ponds, moats, out buildings and well-planned flower gardens were common. Castle inhabitants would frequently utilize the gardens for walking, recreation, and entertaining in good weather. May Day was a major holiday for the English, and was very much anticipated, after the damp, cold winters. The castle gardens were the setting for May pole dancing, pic-nicking, games, flirtations and boisterous fun.The scene below would have been typical of early renaissance dancing in the castle gardens. The photo is from the Showtime TV series The Tudors: The Complete Series,

which is excellent and highly recommended. Although they do take quite a bit of license with historical facts, nevertheless, the dress, customs and general depiction of 16th century England is superb, and the series is truly enjoyable. All four seasons are now available on DVD.

Here are some scenes from the series "The Tudors"

King Henry VIII of England

Some Fun and Interesting Links:

English Hedge Maze

Site about Hedge Mazes in the U.S.

Nice site about Renaissance Dances.

English Gardens to visit in England.

Brief article on Castle Moats, with some useful reference links.

All about May Day in England, with links below, including one on past May Day celebration traditions.

The "Tudor" Rose

The typical English garden includes a profusion of wild flowers as well as annuals and perennials.

This ancient moat makes a lovely setting for an English garden.

(I always kind of wanted to build a moat around my house, but I don't think the town's code would allow it.)

My idea of an inviting garden scene!

As young people, especially young women, were much more closely supervised in medieval times, the gardens were one of the few places where a young girl and her lover could meet, and have some level of privacy: strolling along the garden paths, or stopping beneath a shade tree where secret promises might be exchanged. Writing and reading love poems to one's sweetheart was very common, and it was considered an art and an enviable talent if you were an able poet. Below is an example of such a poem of love and devotion, in the classical English sonnet style.

A Lover's Rose

How sweet the sound of my own lover's voice!

He speaks to me of honeyed blossoms where,

in tangled gardens, vine and rose rejoice,

entwining both the spires and petals there.

How soft the dew of my own lover's kiss!-

anointing neck and trailing over breast.

His lips of velvet speak to me of bliss,

without a sound, as tongue to flesh is pressed.

How gently glides his touch where

hands are laid!-

a feather first and then a firm caress;

my body, in his hands, a goddess made,

each swell and curve, my lover's to possess.

At last my love and I, a twisting vine,

wrap 'round where thorn and blooming rose combine.

K. L. Sparrow

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