At Coleshill in Warwickshire, the ruins of an opulent but undiscovered Elizabethan gardens have just recently been found.
Aerial surveying a few years ago turned up the remnants of Coleshill Manor and an octagonal moat, which led to the discovery of the location. Prior to the construction of HS2, it has been extensively excavated over the previous two years by Wessex Archaeology on behalf of LM (a partnership between Laing O’Rourke and J Murphy). These searches gradually revealed remnants of the expansive formal Elizabethan gardens in Warwickshire that previously decorated the house, exposing extraordinary elements like well-preserved gravel walks, flower beds, and ornaments arranged in geometric patterns (pictured above).
Wessex Archaeology’s project officer, Stuart Pierson, stated: “We knew there were gardens from our first trench inspection work, but we had no idea how large the site would be. It has been particularly fascinating to see how the gardens have evolved and altered through time with various styles as the work has gone on. Additionally, we have discovered several remarkable artifacts, like as smoking pipes, coins, and musket balls, which have provided us with insight into the life of those who once resided here.
Although Coleshill Manor dates back to the early Middle Ages, Henry VII gave it to the Digby family in the 15th century after Simon de Montford, the previous owner, was executed for treason for aiding Perkin Warbeck’s uprising. After getting married to an Irish heiress in the late 16th century, Sir Robert Digby restored the manor and erected the formal gardens to show off his new wealth.
“This is one of the most intriguing Elizabethan gardens in Warwickshire that has ever been unearthed in this nation,” said Dr. Paul Stamper, an expert on English gardens. The degree of preservation at this location is quite outstanding and is greatly enhancing our understanding of English gardens in the 1600s. In the past 30 years, there have only been three or four large-scale garden investigations, including those at Kenilworth Castle, Hampton Court, and Kirby in Northamptonshire. This one, however, was completely unreported. The garden is not referenced in any letters or visitor accounts, there are no plans for it, and it is not documented in historical sources.
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