During James I reign, Theobalds Palace was a regular country retreat from the grim of London. Here the King was able to enjoy his love of animals, hunting over the vast expanse of the country, falconry, lavish banquets and much more. It was even rumoured that during the excavation works in the early 2010, the remains of one of his beloved dogs was discovered. This dedication to the love of animals still exists today in Pets Corner. During 2016-2017, this is being redeveloped by Cedars Park Nature Centre to house some exotic animals which would have delighted King James.
Up until the last residents moved into Theobalds House (now Theobalds Hotel) exotic animals were still part of the household. A menagerie of preserved animals were owned and then donated to local museums. Today this is remembered in the large sculptures enjoyed by the younger park visitors.
The 17th Century Disability Garden was inspired by a BBC gardening programme featuring Monty Don. He visited various restored gardens in England explaining how their unique designs displayed their religious beliefs (add link to symbolisms and beliefs). This gave us the idea of how disability is often hidden. For example, how do you know if someone is deaf or unable to see properly? In wanting to raise awareness of disability, we considered how symbols ie wheelchairs, white canes, hearing aids etc are only used by a small percentage of disabled people. This is often referred to as “hidden disability”.
During the reign of Oliver Cromwell (1653-1658) religious beliefs were outlawed. This suppressed so many aspects of everyday life for his people, from not celebrating Christmas, consulting with religious leaders or holding group meetings. It was during this period people turned to their gardens as a reaction to this suppression. Monty Don referred to it as “the taming of nature”. The practise of topiary was used to shape trees and stunt growth. Mazes were created as areas of tranquil reflection or secret liaisons with religious leaders. Avenues of trees were hedged with tightly wound shrubs creating enclosed areas in parklands. Buildings were constructed in triangular shapes representing the Holy Trinity. Viewing points (such as Venus Mound in Cedars Park) were created, to allow a house owner to gaze down on these hidden messages as a form of resistance against the regime.