Sunday, June 26, 2011

Question from Anna - Roses of the Tudor period

This may seem like a silly question, but what roses in the Tudor period look like? I know that many of the roses we see today are hybrids and are genetically modified. But what would a person in the Tudor period see when they saw a rose?


  1. I don't think this is a silly question at all. The Tudor roses that we see in drawings and carvings do look very different than the roses we see at our local florists! There is a portrait of Elizabeth of York, (which I found in a book called "The All Color Book of Henry VIII" artist unknown, that shows her holding the white rose of York. I wish I could give you better information than this! Genetic modification is nothing new, though. I've heard that the carrot was originally white and became orange when it was modified as a compliment to William (of Orange) and Mary after the "Bloodless Revolution". Mary R

  2. Speaking as a keen gardener myself, I would say it's a very good question and not silly at all.

    Your best bet would be to contact The Garden Museum in Lambeth - and then let us know what you find out!

  3. Thanks for the info! I will send them an email and will post what I find out!

  4. Not a silly question, as I wondered as a child why a Tudor rose in a portrait, looked so different from the ones in my grandparents' garden!

    Modern roses are hybrids and bred to repeat flower and be resistant to disease whereas Tudor roses (old roses) only flower once and are prone to disease (think of Shakespeare's rose canker and you get the picture!)

    Old roses such as rosa mundi are from the gallica family which I believe is the same ones we know as Tudor roses.

    At the eleventh hour, old roses were saved from being extinct and are now stocked by such rose specialists as Peter Beales and David Austin. I must also add old roses have a lovely perfume, something which is quite missing from modern roses.

    I had the most interesting conversation with the Duke of Grafton, in his grounds when he told me he loved old roses, "But they do not love me!" which is a reference to how prone they are disease, mildew etc. I told him old roses were like women, they needed a lot of hard work and attention but you would eventually get your reward!

  5. Hi when I went to Kenilworth castle last year, they had 8 different knot gardens and within them they had roses. It must be only a few years old as it’s not in the guide book but luckily they gave us a separate leaflet naming the flowers in it
    Rosa gallica versicolour –Damask Rose

    Rosa damascene versicolour – Tudor Rose

    Rosa alba semi plena – white rose of York

    Rosa gallica officinalis – Gallic Rose

    Rosa alba celeste – Celiste Rose

    Rosa alba – Great Maidens Blush

    Rosa eglanteria – Elglantine Rose

    Rosa Damascena semperflorens – damask Rose

    I am sure if you do a google search you will be able to find both picyures and more infomation on them

  6. After google searching the pictures, the Tudor rose seems more pink than red. They are really pretty though...but look nothing like roses that you typically think of in America!


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