Do you know your gloriette from your grotto?

Or your parterre from your platoon? Fear not! These images from the Historic England Archive will help you navigate through a selection of features found in historic gardens and garden landscapes.

The Grotto, Old Wardour Castle, Donhead St Andrew, Wiltshire (2009-06-13) by James O Davies, English HeritageHistoric England


A grotto is an artificial cavern. A feature of ancient Roman gardens, grottos were revived during the Renaissance and again in the 18th century when the Picturesque ideal became popular. Grottos often include water features and decorative shell-work.

Read the National Heritage List entry for the grotto at Old Wardour Castle.

The Garden House, Great Saxam Hall, The Saxhams, Suffolk (2011-05-09) by Pat Payne, English HeritageHistoric England


An umbrello is an outdoor structure that provides shade above a seat. They are places where people could meet, view their garden surroundings and sometimes take tea.

Read the National Heritage List entry for the umbrello at Great Saxham Hall.

The Hill Garden, Inverforth House, Inverforth Close, Camden, Greater London (1967) by John GayHistoric England


Pergolas are covered garden walks. They often have double rows of posts or columns supporting beams above. The posts and beams allow climbing plants to decorate the structure.

Read the National Heritage List entry for the Western Pergola at The Hill Garden.

The Hill Garden, Inverforth Close, Camden, Greater London (1967) by John GayHistoric England


A clairvoie is an opening that reveals a view to a garden or landscape. Clairvoies can be grilles, fences or gates and can be found in garden walls and hedges.

Read the National Heritage List entry for the Western Summerhouse at The Hill Garden.

The Orangery, Wrest Park House and Gardens, Silsoe, Central Bedfordshire (1997-07) by Nigel Corrie, English HeritageHistoric England


An orangery is a garden building used for growing and wintering oranges and other fruit and exotic plants. Its distinctive feature is a range of large glass windows on the south side to warm and light the interior.

Early orangeries date from the second half of the 16th century and they gained wide popularity in late 18th century.

Read the National Heritage List entry for the orangery at Wrest Park.

Kirby Hall, Gretton, Kirby, Northamptonshire (2012-05-16) by Damian Grady, English HeritageHistoric England


Parterres are level garden spaces located close to a house. Laid out in decorative patterns of low, formal beds, they can include flowers, herbs, hedges, lawn and paths.

Read the National Heritage List entry for Kirby Hall.

The rill garden, Shute House, Donhead St Mary, Wiltshire (2019-03-25) by James O Davies, Historic EnglandHistoric England


A garden rill is a designed water course, usually in the form of a narrow, shallow canal. Rills can be used to connect different garden areas and can add intrigue to eyes and ears.

Read the National Heritage List entry for Shute House.

Crinkle crankle wall to houses at Scudamore Place, Ditchingham, Norfolk (2013-07-11) by James O Davies, English HeritageHistoric England

Crinkle-crankle wall

A crinkle-crankle wall is a snake-like, curving or undulating wall. They may mark a boundary to a garden or enclose a kitchen garden.

Read the National Heritage List entry for Scudamore Place.

The fernery conservatory, Thornton Manor, Thornton Hough, Bebington, Wirral (1903) by Bedford Lemere & CoHistoric England


A fernery is a free-standing garden building or conservatory attached to a house, for the purpose of housing and displaying collections of ferns.

In the mid-19th century, Victorian Britain was gripped by 'pteridomania' or 'fern-fever'.

Read the National Heritage List entry for Thornton Manor.

Parham House, Parham Park, Parham, West Sussex (2008-07-23) by Derek Kendall, English HeritageHistoric England


A ha-ha is a boundary feature in a garden that keeps out animals without obscuring a view. This is usually by means of an earthwork ditch retained on one side by a vertical wall.

Read the National Heritage List entry for Parham park and garden.

Walled kitchen garden, Osborne House, East Cowes, Isle of Wight (2014-05-07) by Lucy Millson-Watkins, English HeritageHistoric England


Espalier describes an ancient practice that controls the growth of a plant, particularly fruit trees, by pruning and training it to grow on a wall or fence into a specific pattern. It is decorative and allows the fruit tree to get more light and warmth from the sun.

Read the National Heritage List entry for Osborne park and garden.

Leeds Castle, Broomfield and Kingswood, Kent (2008-05-06) by Damian Grady, English HeritageHistoric England


A gloriette is a garden building erected on an elevated site, generally with open sides that afford views over the surrounding garden or landscape.

This extravagant island gloriette allows for views over a castle moat to the landscape beyond.

Read the National Heritage List entry for Leeds Castle park and garden.

Holkham Park, Holkham, Norfolk (2015-11-02) by Damian Grady, Historic EnglandHistoric England


Like a troop of soldiers lined up for inspection, a platoon in garden terms is a parallel rank of square or rectangular tree planting set in order alongside a drive or vista.

This example shows a platton flanking a section of the great south avenue that was planted at Holkham Hall in 1735.

The Kitchen Garden, Audley End House, Audley Park, Saffron Walden, Essex (2007-05) by Marianne Majerus, English HeritageHistoric England


'Potager' is French for 'kitchen garden'. Potagers are often ornamental in character and can be aesthetically pleasing as well as practical.

Influenced by medieval monastic gardens, potagers were elaborately revived in the 16th and 17th centuries, no more so than at the Palace of Versailles for the court of Louis XIV.

The Queen Mother's Garden, Walmer Castle, Walmer, Kent (2002) by David SellmanHistoric England

Parks and Gardens at Historic England

From ancient to modern, from Repton to Jekyll, Historic England offers a vast amount of fascinating and practical information and guidance for those interested in parks and gardens, including:

technical guidance
garden history research
designed landscapes
selection guides
parks and gardens at risk
modern gardens and landscapes

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Historic England is the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England's spectacular historic environment, from beaches and battlefields to parks and pie shops.

Discover the Historic England Archive.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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