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****NEWSFLASH – A Witch’s Garden – NEWSFLASH****

Posted By on June 10, 2009

Flower ShowFurther to today’s post on Anne Boleyn and witchcraft (see below), I just thought I’d share that Hampton Court Palace’s Flower Show is featuring special gardens to remember each of Henry VIII’s six wives and guess what the theme for Anne Boleyn’s garden is – yes, you guessed it! Witchcraft!.

According to newpaper reports – click here to read one – garden designer, Anthea Guthrie, is remembering Anne Boleyn with a garden called “A Witch’s Garden”. In this garden will be herbs and plants with aphrodisiac qualities and ones that are thought to promote fertility. A scaffold is also going to be displayed to remember Anne’s execution. PLEASE!

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My husband laughs at me when I get on my soap box about Anne and get cross about things like this but I’m a bit annoyed that Hampton Court Palace are promoting this myth about Anne Boleyn. OK, perhaps I should get a life, but Anne Boleyn was a real woman and I don’t think that we should tarnish her memory in this way.

By the way, the other wives are being remembered with the following gardens:-

  • Catherine of Aragon – An “Artscapes” garden, which apparently will be full of symbolism.
  • Jane Seymour – Her fair skin and charm will be remembered with pastel colours and white flowers.
  • Anne of Cleves – A Tudor knot design.
  • Catherine Howard – Her famous adultery will be remembered with a four poster bed planted with thyme.
  • Catherine Parr – Her piety will be remembered with a “Mary Garden” (after the Virgin Mary) and contain plants with religious significance or religious names.

The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show will be open to the public between the 7th and 12th July – click here to find out more at their website.

22 thoughts on “****NEWSFLASH – A Witch’s Garden – NEWSFLASH****”

  1. Sabrina says:

    A witch’s garden with a scaffold???? It would be interesting to see what they put in it, however, we all know she wasn’t a witch..

  2. Emma says:

    Move over and allow me some room on that soapbox, Claire! That’s just so insulting to Anne’s memory and only promotes the stereotype and misinformation. Argh!

    This line from the article infuriated me:

    “Anne Boleyn, allegedly a sex-mad seductress”.

    Did they not do ANY historical research? It’s like reading a tabloid before creating a sculpture. As for JS being “charming”, descriptions have her as anything but. She was dowdy and plain.

    Truly, it’s not as if there is nothing else about Anne.
    They could do so much better! Why not bright, vivid colors – perhaps something with French tastes that stood out from the other gardens? Some hydrangeas for good measure, because they mean “perseverance”.

    Some days I think we have made progress with Anne’s true story, and other days… I just want to bang my head against the wall!

  3. admin says:

    Sabrina,
    I’m sure it will be a lovely garden and yes it would be interesting to see, scaffold and all!

    Emma,
    I’m glad many of us feel that way! I’m sure it’s just a “tongue in cheek”, “no harm meant” idea but it really does publicize the myth. Like you, I feel that this was an opportunity to honour the real Anne and a French style garden would have been great or, as you say, hydrangeas. Sometimes I do worry that I’m being too obsessive but I think rumours and myths should be stamped on and this garden just gives credence to the myth.

    Thanks for your comments, both of you!
    Claire x

  4. Sabrina says:

    Tongue in cheek yes, but still…. It seems like they are trying to cash in on the myths of the wives to get people to go.. Honestly, I would rather see something that was accurately researched rather than focusing on the legends of these real women.

    1. admin says:

      Perhaps we should write to Hampton Court Palace!

  5. Most of the ways these wives are being remembered seems wrong. Anne Boleyn a witch? Jane Seymour charming? The devout PROTESTANT Catherine Parr with a “Mary Garden” after the Virgin Mary? Did they do ANY research?

    1. admin says:

      That’s a point about Catherine Parr! The designers probably just did the basic research and then picked a main theme that they thought summed up these queens. Someone has suggested to me that perhaps the gardens have just been designed to stir up interest, to get people talking and to appeal to children, but I’m sure that they could have made them interesting AND true.

  6. Marie Burton says:

    Obviously these are just creative gardeners who have no idea about reality of the wives who have designed the gardens.
    Complete B S is what my automatic thoughts are.
    And for Anne of Cleves – A Tudor knot design. How original. The one thing that has pretty much zippo to do with her.
    Oye vey.

    1. admin says:

      I so agree with you about Anne of Cleves! A Tudor Knot is ridiculous when she wasn’t even English. You’d think that Hampton Court Palace would have given the gardeners some kind of guidance on the wives!

  7. Joanne says:

    I find that the Anne Boleyn Witch’s Garden quite offensive and ghoolish! Why not find one of Anne’s true virtues to design around! Gardens are suppose to be pleasing and spiritual up lifting. One likes to be remind of lovely things while strolling through gardens not unhappy ugly things. Joanne

    1. admin says:

      Yes, Joanne, how much more enjoyable it would be to look at a French themed garden than a Witch’s Garden with scaffold!

  8. Melissa says:

    I think it may considered offensive, but it seems the most fun of all the gardens. OK, maybe Katherine Howard’s four-post bed is pretty cool too. Pastels for boring Jane Seymour, a Tudor Knot theme for Anne of Cleves-boring! At least with the witch garden you can learn what herbs are considered aphrodisiac, and what plants a Tudor witch would be familiar with. I wish I could go see them in person!

    1. admin says:

      Yes, Anne’s garden and Catherine Howard’s are definitely the most exciting. I’m really not sure what to make of the description of Catherine of Aragon’s garden. Love your comment about it being useful to learn what herbs are aphrodisiacs! I don’t know much about herbs or witchcraft so you’re right, it would be interesting to know!

  9. Natalie says:

    Oh, for heaven’s sakes. She was not a witch!! I don’t mind the other wives’ gardens, though (at least the descriptions) but, honestly, ANNE WAS NOT A WITCH!!! The creators of the garden may have intended to just poke fun at her…well, I don’t think so. So much more research could’ve been done on this garden.

  10. Kimberly Eve says:

    make room on that soap box for me please! I find what hampton court palace is doing is
    completely disrespectful to the memory of all the wives.
    Sadly, the government is feeding on people’s curiousity and ignorance in order to make a
    some money off the tourist trade.
    Come one, come all and take a look at how quickly we can destroy our own history!!
    what a shame really.

    1. admin says:

      Natalie, yes so much more research could have been done and I’m not sure the designs are very creative or “original” really.

      Kimberly, this soap box is getting so crowded, I really must invest in a bigger one! I’m not sure what the US is like re tourist attractions but many historical houses and attractions in the UK use myths, legends, ghost stories and the like to attract visitors. Us Brits love a good ghost story or legend (King Arthur, Merlin, Robin Hood, headless ghosts etc.). In the wake of “The Tudors” and people’s interest in the real story behind these characters, I really do think that Hampton Court and the Tower of London could change their marketing tactics.

  11. sarah r says:

    To equate herbs with witchcraft is ridiculous! Herbalism was practiced by many people in Tudor times, and continues to be practiced today for reasons of health and well-being. Very little if anything to do with magic spells. So the reasoning behind this section of the garden is not even particularly sound. History is hardly taught in state schools in the UK, so it is little wonder we (they) have such scant regard for the facts, or for the dignity of those who have gone before.

    1. admin says:

      Yes, I agree, Sarah, herbalism is not witchcraft, although obviously the use of love potions or aphrodisiacs to entice a man would have been seen as witchcraft. As an ex UK school teacher, I do think that history in schools has become diluted and not enough time is spent on it, although my son did excellent school projects on the Romans and also the Second World War. I dug out a project I did at school aged 11 on “The History of Britain” and all the Royal houses, from the Normans to the Windsors, and I admit that children in Year 6 today would not have enough time to put a project like that together. I guess that it’s only children who choose to do History GCSE and A’ Level that get a good grounding in the subject. History is such a fantastic subject and immediately fascinates children, so it’s a shame that it has become diluted.

      1. Shoshana Wolf says:

        Unfortunately, we in the States have the same problem in our schools. I can remember spending a wonderful year learning about British history and the next we learned about the American Revolution, and the year after our state’s history – all before we were 10. We had history each and every year until graduation but now the kids are barely exposed to history. I heard of one boy who believed the American Revolution was fought against the Frence; that is just sad.

        As for the gardens, I too think it was put together to tempt tourist to visit. Sad they chose the path of myth instead of the more interesting truth. All of the wives could be represented in so much better ways. I could see Katherine of Aragon with a garden full of gardenias, Anne Boelyn should have Queens Lace and baby’s breathe, Jane Seymour should also have baby’s breath along with forgetmenots, Anne of Cleves could be represented by a mixture of English Roses, and whatever national flower that best represents Germany, Katherine Howard should keep her bed and have a cover of bachlor buttons & some Evening scented long stocks that only bloom at night & of course English Roses with plenty of thorns to remember Henry stating she was a rose without thorns, and lastly, Katherine of Parr’s flower could have been English Roses mixed with forgetmenots and thistles to represent her giving up the man she loved to do her duty to England (a touch of beauty with thorns). It didn’t take much to come up with these themes so I’m sure if Hampton Court people had taken a little time to think things over, they could have put together a fansinating garden dedicate to six women who in their own way, influenced the world.

        Claire, maybe you need to replace the soap box with stadium – your army of turth seekers are growing!

  12. Claudine says:

    I don’t think the “herbs and plants with aphrodisiac qualities and ones that are thought to promote fertility” are such a bad inclusion (she was alluring to the point that Henry left his wife & cut ties with the Pope. Anne also wanted very much to conceive a male heir). People utilized herbs for many reasons, including Henry! But calling it a witch’s garden is silly and including a scaffold is completely offensive and belittling to Anne. I think that a French garden with a fleur-de-lys made of beautiful, colorful, and fragrant flowers might have been a better way to commemorate her.

    The Anne of Cleves garden should have included something to honor her German heritage. I agree that giving her a Tudor knot is just lazy and uninspired!

    1. admin says:

      Hi Claudine,
      Thanks for your comment. Anthea, the garden designer has left a comment under my previous blog on “Anne Boleyn: The Witch” explaining that her garden was more about the belief system of the time, rather than making out that Anne was a witch.
      I agree with you about the Tudor Knot for Anne of Cleves, it’s just not appropriate!

  13. Kathy says:

    I think if Anne would hear this she would only laugh and go away! And if there are people who believe these things than they don’t even deserve our or Anne’s attention!

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