|Kyngs Beestes at Hampton Court Palace.|
Last week I watched a TV program on the restoration of the Hampton Court Palace, especially the King’s Apartments, west of London. The restoration cost $25 million and took six years to complete (severely damaged during a fire in 1986). The focus of the restoration marks the 500th anniversary of King Henry VIII’s accession to the throne.
What excited me most was the restoration of the gardens, and in particular The Chapel Court Tudor Garden based on Research into 16th century privy gardens of the King at Hampton Court and Whitehall Palace. Paintings of the Tudor King at Court (now on display) not only provides insight into his early years of his reign, but also inspired the recreation of garden sculptures that fascinate in every sense of the word.
|Kyngs Beeste, Yale|
|16th century privy gardens of the King at Hampton Court|
They are the ‘kyngs beestes’, raised high on painted posts, these brightly coloured, wood carved replicas, recall an earlier Tudor pleasure ground. The garden was designed and developed by the renowned landscape architect Todd Longstaffe-Gowan. Authentically recreated, it provides insight into the Tudor court garden style of the day, consisting of heraldic beasts, flowerbeds, herbs and splendid examples of the art of topiary.
|Garden styles of the day.|
|Topiary mentioned above.|
The beasts were inspired by creatures captured in a painting of the King and his family in 1545. Close observation of the landscape seen through arched doorways, captured on either side of the painted royals, reveal the gardens and its fabulous creatures.
|Kyngs Beeste, Leopard.|
The magnificent beasts are each perched on a brightly coloured post in amongst the flowerbeds. They include the lion of England, a bull, dragon, falcon, leopard, greyhound and a yale. The ‘Kyngs Beestes’ were masterly carved in English oak, and then brightly painted to emulate Tudor heraldic colours of the day.
Two Tudor lion statues believed to be original ‘kyng’s beestes’ have found their rightful place at Hampton Court after many years of research after being discovered in the eighties. They traveled with the owner to France and with renewed interest and recent research, the authenticity of the pair of statues was confirmed, and their position in the court reestablished.
|Kyngs Beeste, Falcon.|
|Kyngs Beeste, Dragon.|
The newly restored gardens also provide historical insight into the variety of containers, tubs and vases to showcase the fine collection of tender and exotic plants of Queen Mary II. Based on 17th century prototypes these containers were specially recreated to provide visitors insight into her fabulous collection; unrivaled in England during the Tudor era.