Elizabethan gardens at Quarrendon near Aylesbury
Quarrendon parish is an area of open countryside north of the River Thame on the fringe of Aylesbury, which hasl seen extensive development over the last decade with 3000 new homes and other facilities. Next to the new development there is a large ancient monument where in the medieval period two small villages existed. The lumps and bumps of the former house walls, garden boundaries, streets, ponds and ruined church can still be seen and are protected by law.
In the 15th century, the Lee family came from Warwickshire to Quarrendon and started grazing cattle and sheep on the rich grassland meadows. Soon the Lees became lords of the manor. It may be that they started evicting people from the larger village on the hill, because in the late 16th century a new moated house was built at the base of the hill near St Peter's church, a water garden created to the west and the village was covered by a park for deer and rabbit warrens - artificial mounds for the rabbits being constructed on top of the old house plots of the village.
The Lees later left Quarrendon for Ditchley in Oxfordshire and the house became a farmhouse, which was knocked down last century. The remains of the church, water garden, moat, rabbit warrens and villages can still be seen along footpaths from the A41 on the north side of the River Thame. Quarrendon also boasts attractive historic meadows and hedgerows containing rare pollarded black poplars. See our visitor guide for a map and information on how to get there. Buckinghamshire Conservation Trust is working with partners, including Buckinghamshire Council and Historic England, to conserve the site, which lies between major development areas, and to improve access and interpretation. A survey and research has been undertaken by Historic England and a detailed account published in 2001 in the journal 'Records of Buckinghamshire'. An article on the Tudor gardens was published in Current Archaeology in May 2008 - you can read this by clicking on the PDF document below (copyright of Current Archaeology).
Click on these links to read or download a summary article on the Tudor gardens in Historic England's Conservation Bulletin www.historicengland.org.uk/Conservation_Bulletin_40 (pages 40-42 'Earthworks and landscape') and the detailed article on Quarrendon published as 'Peasants, Peers and Graziers' in Records of Buckinghamshire, available on the Bucks Archaeological Society's website at www.bucksas.org.uk .