Great Gardens
Young child drawing at a garden table

Competition: design a perfect parterre for your chance to win a £100 goody bag!

Learn about some amazing examples of parterre gardens and then come up with a design of your own. Use your imagination to create the most spectacular parterre in history!

Note: this competition has now closed. 

Aerial view of Audley End House and Gardens in Essex

Pretty patterns

A parterre is a garden style in which flower beds and grass are laid out to make beautiful patterns and designs. Parterre is a French word that literally means ‘on the ground’. They were designed to be seen from above, usually from the upper floors of a large house, such as Audley End House and Gardens in Essex (pictured).

Parterres became popular in the 1500s in France but soon spread all over Europe. They became fashionable in England in the 1600s and then again in the 1800s. Generally they were laid out close to the house and became a popular place to go for a walk while enjoying the design.

Parterre garden at Witley Court in Worcestershire

Victorian designs

One style of parterre was called the English parterre. This included flat areas of grass surrounded by flower borders. It was popular in England but keeping the grass alive and healthy was difficult in other places in Europe that had less rain.

The parterre at Kirby Hall in Northamptonshire was originally laid out in the 1690s and has been recreated following archaeological investigations. Many of the parterres you can see today were made during Victorian times, such as those at Brodsworth Hall and Gardens in South Yorkshire, and at Witley Court and Gardens in Worcestershire (pictured), which has an intricate design filled with coloured gravel and flowers.

If you want more inspiration, have a look at the below examples from English Heritage sites.

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens

Brodsworth Hall and Gardens
The parterre at Brodsworth Hall in South Yorkshire was created by the owner, Charles Sabine Augustus Thellusson, in the 1860s. It contained 34 flower beds, filled with thousands of plants, which required a lot of maintenance – a way for the owner to show off his wealth and taste. The garden even included subtropical plants such as bananas!
Audley End House and Gardens

Audley End House and Gardens

Audley End House and Gardens
The colourful parterre at Audley End House in Essex was created by the fashionable garden designer William Sawry Gilpin for the house’s owner, Lord Braybrook, in 1832. It is one of the earliest examples of this type of garden and can still be seen in all its glory today after it restored by English Heritage in 1993.
Kirby Hall

Kirby Hall

Kirby Hall
The complex parterre at Kirby Hall in Northamptonshire was reconstructed following archaeological excavations in the 1980s. It is an example of a ‘parterre à l’anglaise’, which means English parterre. It was called this because it used so much grass, which would have been harder to maintain in dryer and hotter countries in mainland Europe.


Queen Victoria’s huge seaside home on the Isle of Wight has a lot of parterre gardens set on different terraces in front of the house. They were created in the 1840s to fit in with the Italian-style design of the house. The most complicated parterre, on the Pavilion Terrace, was designed by Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, in 1846.
Wrest Park

Wrest Park

Wrest Park
It’s difficult to imagine how big the gardens are at Wrest Park in Bedfordshire – they cover an area of more than 90 acres! Among the most impressive parts though are the parterres. They were created at the same time that the house was built in the 1930s, for Thomas, Earl de Grey. The French Parterre, seen here, was laid out in a scroll pattern.
Young children doing colouring-in with parents

Design a glorious garden

Now it’s your turn to design what you think would be the perfect parterre! You can use the gardens pictured on this page as inspiration – look at the different shapes they use and how all the curves fit together. Or you could come up with a completely different design that’s even better than the parterre gardens from the past! Think about what colour flower beds you’d like to have, where the hedges and paths will go, and any other special features you’d like to include, such as statues or fountains.

Draw your parterre design on a sheet of paper and colour it in however you like, using crayons, coloured pencils, felt-tip pens or paint. Or if you want to try something different, you could cut out shapes from different pieces of coloured paper and fit them together to make a collage.

Young girl and mum drawing a parterre garden

How to enter

Once you’ve designed your glorious garden, you can enter it into our competition to be in with a chance of winning a goody bag of prizes worth £100 from our online shop. Ask an adult to scan or take a clear photograph of it and send it to us at, along with your full name and age, and your parent or guardian’s membership number, name and address.

Please make sure you have your parent or guardian’s permission to enter, and check the terms and conditions below. Entries must be in by midnight on Sunday 29 May 2022. Good luck!

Enter now!

Terms and Conditions

  • Terms and Conditions
    • The Promoter is: The English Heritage Trust, incorporated and registered in England and Wales with company number 7447221 and charity number 1140351 whose registered office is at The Engine House, Fire Fly Avenue, SN2 2EH (‘English Heritage’).
    • These terms and conditions apply to the ‘Design a Perfect Parterre Competition’ (‘the Competition’), running from Monday 9 May 2022 (the ‘Opening Date’) until midnight Sunday 29 May 2022 (the ‘Closing Date’).
    • All Competition entries received after the Closing Date shall be automatically disqualified.
    • No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.
    • The Competition is open to English Heritage Young Members resident in the United Kingdom. Entrants under the age of 13 will need permission from a parent or guardian (aged 18 or over).
    • Employees or contractors of English Heritage, any person directly or indirectly involved in English Heritage or the running of the Competition, or their direct family members are not eligible for the prize.
    • There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this Competition.
    • By entering this Competition, each entrant is agreeing to be bound by these terms and conditions.
    • Entries must be sent as a scanned or photographed file with clear details of the entrant’s name and age, and a parent or guardians name, email, address and membership number. Entries submitted in any other way will not be accepted.
    • The winning entrant will be contacted via email to the email address provided.
    • Obscene or inappropriate entries will not be accepted and English Heritage reserves the right to reject any entries for any reason at its sole discretion.
    • Entries must not infringe the copyright of anyone else and entrants will hold English Heritage harmless from any claims in relation to their entry alleging that the entry infringes the personal or proprietary right of any other person.
    • Only one entry will be accepted per person.  Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified.
    • English Heritage reserves the right to cancel or amend the Competition at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, and if circumstances arise outside of its control.  Any changes to the Competition will be notified to entrants by English Heritage.
    • The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
    • The winner will be contacted by Friday 10 June 2022. If a Competition winner cannot be contacted or does not claim their prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the Competition winner and pick a replacement Competition winner.
    • The Competition winner’s name may be published on English Heritage’s website and social media channels in a shortened form.
    • English Heritage reserves the right to substitute any prize for one of equal or greater value.
    • The Competition prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The Competition prize is not transferable.
    • The Competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by English law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England.
    • This Competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other social network. You are providing your information to English Heritage and not to any other party.
    • The information provided will be used in conjunction with the following Privacy Policy found at: The personal data you provide will only be used for the purposes of the Competition and will be destroyed once the Competition has ended.
    • English Heritage shall have the right, at its sole discretion and at any time, to change or modify these terms and conditions, such change shall be effective immediately upon posting to this webpage.


    The Competition Prize:

    • One entrant will receive a goody bag of items to the value of £100, selected from the English Heritage online shop.
    • The Competition winner will be chosen by a panel of judges appointed by English Heritage.
    • No cash alternative to the prize will be offered.
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