Garden of Surprises

Water, water everywhere… fun and history combined in a garden. Opened in 2007 the Historical Garden of Surprises is a fantastic addition to the gardens at Burghley.

In the 16th century the 1st Lord Burghley was a passionate gardener and employer of the Tradescants. One of his gardens, at Theobalds, was noted by diarists of the day as containing “divers conceits, obelisks of many materials and a lead pond which was pleasant for bathing in the summer, as well as Caesars heads contained in a circular building with a table made from ‘touchstone'”.

The amazing contents of the Garden of Surprises are inspired by this Elizabethan garden and are hidden from the outside – waiting to reveal their surprises to those who enter. Features such as the moss house, the swivelling Caesar busts, basins of water, jets and the mirrored maze have been designed to be accessible to all regardless of age or interest, and are particularly enjoyable for the young or those young at heart who enjoy a paddle on a warm day. The garden exudes a real sense of fun.


Our longitude sundial is unique as it places Burghley House at its centre. By using the figures on the edge of the dial the time of day can be accurately calculated throughout the year for our position on the earth’s surface. If you stand and watch the shadow cast by the line you can also see how the world turns.

Visitor Guidelines

Children must be supervised at all times, a minimum of one adult to every four children.

Children to be clothed or in swimsuits (including swim nappies) at all times.

Suitable footwear to be worn at all times.

Sorry no dogs or ball games.

Picnics in the Sculpture Garden only.

Please do not drink the water.