Hedge Mazes

Hedge Mazes
Egeskov Castle in Denmark and Hampton Court in England

Hedge mazes were a quite common phenomenon in Denmark in the 17th to 18th centuries.

They were placed mainly in the parks at the castles and manor houses, as were the case in the rest of Europe.

Today, there is only one of these parks left in Denmark: the park at Egeskov Castle (in East Funen). However, a number of new mazes have been constructed during recent years.

The Hedge Maze at Egeskov Castle

Egeskov Castle is also the place in Denmark having most hedge mazes so far. The park has no less than four hedge mazes: One of hornbeam (the oldest one) and three newer ones of bamboo, yew and larch respectively.

The oldest one is situated in the north eastern part of the garden. Traditionally, it is dated to 1733; however, it can be argued whether this dating is correct. It may be a lot older. By all accounts the famous English maze in Hampton Court Park, commonly dated to 1690, should be a copy of the maze at Egeskov.

If you look at the ground plans for the two mazes, they are almost identical. The shape of the maze at Egeskov is rectangular. Where as the shape of the Hampton Court maze is trapezoidal as a result of fitting the maze into a very tight garden layout.

The Hampton Court Hedge Maze

The fact of the matter is probably that the Danish Prince Jorgen (1653-1708), son of King Frederik III, has paid a visit to Ege­skov Castle. He has ex­perienced the maze, and become fascinated by it, and has borrowed the drawings to take back home to England. Prince Jorgen was married to Queen Anne, who is said to be the founder of the Hampton Court maze.

In that way, the Hampton Court maze should have been constructed shortly after the one at Egeskov.

Hedge Mazes in Other Countries

If we go abroad, there are numerous hedge mazes. Especially in Great Britain, who is considered to be the ”mother country of mazes”. She has no less than 43 hedge mazes – among these are many modern ones. (For a complete register of mazes in Great Britain please see ”The British Maze Guide” by Adrian Fisher and Jeff Saward, 1991).

In Ireland there are 3 hedge mazes.
In the Netherlands there are 13 hedge mazes.
In Germany, there are 10 mazes registered, of which the most well-known probably is the Herrenhausen maze in Hannover.

Photo and ground plan of the mazes are by Jørgen Thordrup.

The Hedge Maze at Egeskov Castle

Left: Ground plan for the Egeskov Castle maze
Right: Ground plan for the Hampton Court maze