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The Hedge Maze is a type of Maze found in ornamental gardens with walls made out of hedges, often found on the grounds of a Bright Castle, Haunted Castle or Big Fancy House. They are generally perceived as mysterious and magical, and sometimes foreboding, and if one is mentioned in a story chances are at some point the characters will have to find their way through it, perhaps while being chased or trying to beat the Villains to the center. The hedge maze often doubles as Mobile Maze and the paths paradoxically seem to move around as you're trying to navigate it. In the center is what the maze is protecting, often something magical and valuable that The Hero needs.

In mystery stories, you can count on finding a corpse in one of these. Since they're almost always a part of the gardens of a country house, you can expect the usual country house doings to be brought into it. Somebody seeking privacy goes there so as not to be disturbed, only to be permanently rendered past disturbing by a killer. Clandestine meetings are arranged, again often in the center of the maze, for important private conversations (like, say, blackmail). Lovers go there for a rendezvous. There's a house party scavenger hunt or village festival on the grounds, and one or more of the revelers goes inside. There may even be more than one trip inside the maze, especially if there's a reconstruction of the initial crime and/or a trap set for the killer.

Truth in Television The hedge maze was a must-have part of Western European gardens in the 16th and 17th centuries, including Hampton Court Palace in the UK. You can see maps, photos and engravings here.

Mazes in general, but especially the hedge maze, tend to be symbolic of navigating the subconscious and discovering the self. While overcoming the maze, the character confronts their own darkness and fears.

A subtrope of The Maze. Compare The Lost Woods.

Examples of Hedge Maze include:


Film

  • Laurence Olivier's character in Sleuth had one of these.
  • The Avengers (1998). Steed and Mrs. Peel encounter one of these on Sir August's estate. While traveling through it Steed is attacked by Sir August and Mrs. Peel falls down a hole and is captured.

 Mrs. Peel: Ah, yes, it's clear now. A love maze in a trapezoid shape. [snip] Originally late 17th century design, then copied.

  • In The Shining, the Overlook Hotel has a big one. Just the place for a scary chase scene.

Literature

  • A hedge maze shows up in the Queen of Hearts' garden in Alice in Wonderland.
  • J. J. Connington’s 1927 Murder in the Maze features two corpses, one in each of the two centers of the hedge maze. In life they were successful-yet-hated twin brothers.
  • In Lammas Night, by Katherine Kurtz, a hedge maze is part of the coven's outdoor ritual area. Some gates are moved when the area is being used for magical purposes, and walking the maze in the new configuration helps to prepare the coven.
  • Sarah J. Mason introduced her Stone and Trewly series in 1993's Murder in the Maze. The body of a doctor's young wife is found in a hedge maze during a village fete.
  • Karen Harper has a young queen Elizabeth I as lead sleuth in a series, including the fifth installment, The Thorne Maze (2003).
  • Catherine Aird's 2009 book Amendment of Life has a gardener find a body in the yew maze he's working in, observed by his employer from an upstairs window of the main house.
  • In Harry Potter, one of these serves as the location of the final challenge in the Triwizard Tournament.
  • In the Time Wars novel The Pimpernel Plot, a clandestine meeting takes place at the centre of a hedge maze in the grounds of an English country house.
  • In A College of Magics, the villain's country house has a hedge maze that was designed and built by a wizard, and can be used as a trap where a person who goes in can't find their way out until the maze's owner lets them.
  • In The Obernewtyn Chronicles a hedge maze forms the main route between the main house and the farms. It is made of greenthorn, the scent of which inhibits the Misfits' Talents.

Live Action TV

  • In an episode of CSI: NY, the investigators find a college kid dead in one. It was the site of a banishment ceremony for a kid who wanted out of a secret group called Kings And Shadows. Another kid seized on it and killed the kid to cover something else up.

Video Games

  • In order to meet Princess Zelda for the first time in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Link has to navigate a hedge maze outside of Hyrule castle without being caught by castle guards.
  • The Peach's Garden track in Mario Kart DS and Mario Kart Wii features a bit of a hedge maze.
  • In Paper Mario, Mario has to navigate a hedge maze in Flower Fields to find Rosie so he can trade her a Crystal Berry for a Water Stone needed to save a dying flower named Lily.
  • Banjo-Kazooie features a hedge maze in the Mad Monster Mansion level. It is a lot easier to figure out how to get through it once you realize that you can actually hop on top of the hedges themselves.
  • The Interactive Fiction game Curses opens in a Big Fancy House, the grounds of which incorporate a hedge maze. One puzzle involves reaching a location that's completely surrounded by hedges.
  • Super Mario Galaxy had one planet covered entirely by hedge mazes in which you have to chase rabbits there to obtain the Power Star.

Western Animation

  • In Chowder, an old apprentice of Mung Daal's tries to get even with him by taking Chowder to his "Deathly Maze", where he would get lost forever. Unfortunately, the plan fails because he gets lost in his own maze as well.
  • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic the very first episode of Season 2 is a hedge maze where Discord supposedly hid the Elements of Harmony.
  • Ben 10: Charmcaster's debut episode had one.
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