‘Lost’ maze revealed in Buckinghamshire

A ‘lost’ maze has been revealed in the gardens at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire by the National Trust. The maze that disappeared over half a century ago, originally made for Lord Astor in 1894, has been re-created using over 1,000 two metre (six feet six inches) high yew trees.

The fully-fledged maze is based on one that was built for Lord Astor in 1894 but had ceased to be maintained since the mid-1900s.

The new maze, a horticultural project on a scale rarely seen these days, has taken two years to create, using over 1,000 metres of steel edging and 120 tonnes of gravel to produce 500 metres of path over one third of an acre. It is the same size as the world-famous Hampton Court maze.

Lord Astor’s designs for the maze were discovered in National Trust archives in 2005. Apart from a few surviving yew trees that provided the exact location of the maze, little else was known about the original maze.

The two-year project was led by Cliveden’s head gardener Andrew Mudge. He said: “Once we found the old plans in 2005 we just felt compelled to recreate it. It took a lot of research and planning to firstly draw out the plans, and to prepare the ground.

“The maze will take a little while to really establish itself and fill out, but it’s fantastic that people can enjoy it straight away. And don’t worry, you can’t cheat by pushing through the hedges because they are all enclosed by metal railings.

“And because it’s yet to appear on Google Earth, there’s no cheating using mobile phones either, so it’s a real treat for people who want to puzzle their way in and out of the maze.”

Each tree on arrival, weighed approximately 60 kilograms, and four 40 foot long lorries were required to transport them.

Mike Calnan, head of gardens and parks at the National Trust, said: “Mazes provide a perfect opportunity for people to get outdoors and to have fun exploring these rare, but important features from our gardening past. The Cliveden maze will be the most important yew maze the Trust will have restored to date.”

The Maze is a highlight in Cliveden’s ongoing renaissance to return it to its former 19th Century splendour, when the grounds were world famous for their sophisticated planting and landscaping. Other recent developments include the opening up of long lost vistas and footpaths and the re-instatement of historical planting schemes.