chapter  9
20 Pages

Horti Recidivi

The Restoration and Re-Creation of Medieval Gardens in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
WithManuel Schwembacher

Restoring historic gardens and re-creating gardens in a historic style, whether medieval or later, have become increasingly popular in the last decades. From the 1950s different approaches and philosophies concerning the restoration of gardens dominated the heritage gardens industry. Unsurprisingly, some of these approaches for conservation and re-creation also had their impact on medieval gardens like on a few “re-created” medieval gardens (like Queen Eleanor’s Garden in Winchester and the Bayleaf farmhouse at Singleton in West Sussex). Since then, several different historic garden sites have been excavated or revised based on archaeological or documentary evidence (the garden in the Augustinian Haverfordwest Priory in Pembrokeshire, the garden in the Carthusian Mount Grace Priory in Yorkshire, and—as a Tudor instance—the garden of Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire). These examples aim to represent an “authentic” period garden as an as accurate as possible reconstruction. In parallel, in the last decade, a few “modern-medieval” gardens emerged: gardens in contemporary designs with evident medieval features (such as the two gardens of the English Heritage Contemporary Garden Scheme, garden of the National Museum of Medieval Art in Paris and the garden at the cathedral of Naumburg), which aim to convey “ideas” of medieval gardening and culture and focus on symbolism. The first part of this chapter gives an overview of medieval garden restoration and discusses the mentioned gardens in relation to their main characteristics and particularities; the second part examines how specific perceptions, like modern perceptions of the Middle Ages and awareness of gender as well as the commercialization of the sites, are influencing the perception of these gardens. How far are these sites deliberately gendered in some aspects to appeal to visitors? To what extent are gender-based associations in these garden contexts applicable and valid?