London's Labyrinths And Mazes

By M@ Last edited 40 months ago

Last Updated 31 March 2021

London's Labyrinths And Mazes
The famous Hampton Court Maze, with an unexpected pub in the top-left corner.

Everyone's heard of the maze at Hampton Court Palace. And rightly so. It's over 300 years old, which apparently makes it the most venerable hedge-flavoured puzzle in the world. The maze (as well as the gardens and palace at Hampton) are another of those London attractions that are absolutely worth visiting, even if you're a dyed-in-the-wool Londoner with an uppity attitude towards tourist gumpf. But where else in London might you lose yourself in a maze?

Warren Street tile maze.

Perhaps the most familiar, even if you've never given them much thought, are the tile mosaics on Warren Street station's Victoria Line platforms. The design was created in 1967 by Alan Fletcher. According to this here site, most people will take over four minutes to solve the puzzle, whereas the average gap between trains is three. Fiendish, eh? And a clever visual pun (or a rebus, if you're from the Boris school of vocabulary) on the station's name.

Crystal Palace maze is a bit easier to solve from above.

After Hampton Court, the next most famous living maze in London is probably the one in Crystal Palace Park. The circular perplexity was originally planted in the 1870s, and is the largest in London. The attraction got a makeover in 2009 courtesy of a local girl-guide group.

Regent Quarter maze. Image courtesy of London Remembers.

Regent Quarter, that strangely sterile conglomeration of converted workshops and yards in King's Cross, also has its own maze. It hangs on the wall close to the ever-popular Camino restaurant and bar (near the Cally Road entrance). It won't have you scratching your head for long, but it's nice to see a splash of colour in this otherwise monochrome development.

Visitors to Maze Hill in Greenwich won't find any kind of labyrinth. As the Greenwich Phantom describes, the unusual name is most likely a corruption of May's Hill, referring to a one-time land owner. The Phantom does, however, lead us to a real maze, on the very fringes of London. Hall Place, a medieval mansion in Bexleyheath, contains a turf maze in its gardens. At the other end of London, meanwhile, Chiswick House has both a hedge maze and a small herb maze.

The Brent Park Millennium Maze, a 'proper biggie', as photographed by Diamond Geezer.

Since this piece was first published, we've learnt (in the comments below) about the Brent Park Millennium Maze in Ealing and a small puzzle in Coronation Park, near Leyton Orient's ground. Meanwhile, Fen Court in the City contains a small labyrinth as part of the London Centre for Spirituality, intended to be meditative.

Fen Court labyrinth, pictured by London Remembers.

One of London's newest mazes was created in 2012 for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. A small brick maze surrounds an oversized coin in the tranquil space beside St Paul's Covent Garden. It's very easy to solve, but delightful nonetheless.

Another neat little labyrinth in the Square Mile can be found in the churchyard of St Olave's, near the Tower of London. Again, it is intended for contemplation rather than puzzlement.

A Diamond Jubilee maze at St Paul's Covent Garden.

As part of London Underground's 150th birthday celebrations last year, the artist Mark Wallinger installed a unique piece of art in every tube station. Called Labyrinth, the works each depict a different maze-like pattern. The real challenge is not to solve the labyrinths (they only offer one route through), but to track down every plaque in every station

One of Mark Wallinger's labyrinths. How many have you spotted?

We also stumbled across an old chalk maze, to the south of Tower Hamlets cemetery. The tiny puzzle was looking a little overgrown, and smelled strongly of dog poop. Perhaps one to avoid.

Finally, we have to mention the unintentional labyrinth that is the Barbican. It even had its own minotaur until recently exiled for a redevelopment.

The Barbican minotaur , since removed, awaited any would-be Theseus in the maze-like estate.

Now, did we miss any?