Under Edward I the mediaeval prosperity of the English may be said to have culminated. It declined under the weak or warlike reigns of his successors, until during the Wars of the Roses much that civilization had gained seemed to have been lost. The Tudor accession brought the Wars of the Roses to an end and inaugurated a new epoch.
The sites of new dwellings were not chosen based on inaccessibility like those of the castles. Now, instead of seeking a defensible position, people preferred situations that were pleasant and salubrious, where they might live protected from the cold winds, and where gardens and orchards might be cultivated advantageously. Thus, like the earlier monastic edifices, a gentleman’s house was more often built in a valley than on a hilltop. There was more room for expansion, and near the house the grounds under cultivation could be extended to answer the increasing demands for various kinds of plantations.
At first both house and gardens still seem to have been protected not only by walls, but with a moat. Such was the residence of Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, at
Thornbury. From a 1521 description (which is all that remains of the gardens now) it appears that the gardens were well supplied with galleries and arbors, or, as they are quaintly entitled, “roosting-places.”
Gradually, battlements, moats, and other defensive accessories ceased to
be built in connection with the house, and were retained only to secure the gardens
from intruders and for the preservation of the trees and plants from severe winds and
the depredations of marauders. Cardinal Wolsey’s palace and grounds at Hampton Court were among the last to be made secure by moats as well as walls. It was in these gardens that the cardinal was accustomed to walk at the close of day as he recited even-song. His fondness for this recreation and the beauty of the gardens (which were located near the Pond Garden, and no longer exist) were well noted by his disciple, Cavendish.
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