Planting a Medieval Garden in Hamsterley Village


This weekend Hamsterley village, a tiny, beautiful place located between Teesdale and Weardale, celebrates its annual Flower Festival with a twist. ‘Magna Flora’ is a two-day event to coincide with the celebrations surrounding the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta and in honour of all things medieval, the village have transformed a corner of their Millenium Garden into a haven of horticulture medium aevum-style. I was delighted to be asked to help out, advising on planting and providing cuttings of some of the rarer herbs, and together we planted a fabulous raised bed, packed full of lilies, iris, cornflowers, and roses, as well as hyssop, southernwood, winter savory, costmary, thyme, sage and rosemary – Walafrid Strabo would have been proud!

Inspiration came from a wide variety of sources: from 9th century texts such as Strabo’s Hortulus, Charlemagne’s Capitulare de Villis, and the Plan of St Gall to 12th century records such as Alexander Neckham’s De naturis rerum, and, a little closer still to the signing of Magna Carta, Bartholomaeus Anglicius’ De Proprietatibus Rerum, and the results are stunning. The Millenium Garden is located just to the left of the Methodist Church in Hamsterley – should you ever be passing, do pay it a visit!

‘Magna Flora’ takes place on Saturday 27th, 2-5pm, and Sunday 28th June, 1-4pm. There will be exhibitions of miniature sheds, flower arrangements, plants for sale, and plenty of tea, coffee and homemade cake! Oh, and a talk by yours truly on the Saturday at 4pm on medieval cooking and it’s relevance for the 21st century. Here’s hoping there isn’t a civil war and that the barons don’t revolt…


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