Thursday 21 March 2013

A Tudor Kitchen Garden

Look out for me and my family on today's BBC London news at 6.30pm for the launch of the BBC's Grow Your Own campaign. As an archaeologist, I am used to working with a trowel, although not normally for putting things in the ground!

The campaign is a very exciting one and aims to get everyone thinking about growing their own vegetables, regardless of how big their plot is. You don't even need a garden - vegetables and herbs will grow in window boxes or in planters on balconies.

We are lucky enough to have a small garden in London and now have a vegetable patch and two large planters. My garden is a Tudor-inspired one and I want to look into just what the Tudor householder was growing and eating and have a go at planting these myself.

So far, I have planted both purple and yellow carrots which would have been the colours most commonly seen on the Tudor table. Surprisingly, orange carrots are a later development. There will be no potatoes in my Tudor garden, since these only arrived in England in the 1580s from the New World. Similarly, we wont be growing tomatoes. There are a wide variety of root vegetables which would have been a staple of the Tudor peasant's diet, including turnips and radishes.

I will be giving regular radio and television updates of progress and will also be updating here. Hopefully, this summer we will be able to have our own Tudor banquet!


  1. What are you referring to for your garden? I would like to start a Tudor garden too.

  2. Hi Erin, I've really enjoyed creating the Tudor garden this year, it's been a fascinating project. I used a number of primary and secondary sources to get ideas for the garden. One particularly good sixteenth century work is the Book of Husbandry, which was written in 1523. There is a nineteenth century edition available at Also, have you been watching the BBC's Tudor Monastery Farm? I was lucky enough to get an advance edition of the book that accompanies the series and found that useful. Hope this helps and do let me know how you get on with your own project!