In my quest to visit all the remaining English turf mazes, I set out on a cold and drizzly afternoon to the tiny village of Breamore (a few miles from Salisbury) to find the Mizmaze on Breamore Down.
Although the Breamore maze was clearly marked on my map, it was not easy to find. Having come this far, I did not want to give up and I wandered into the churchyard hoping to find a footpath. Here I came across an elderly man who pointed me in the right direction. “You should be able to find it all right,” he said, before adding ominously, “Although it’s many years before I went there myself.” Fortunately, a combination of his instructions and Google Maps on my i-phone got me there in the end.
Finding the Breamore Mizmaze
The maze is not accessible by car, so you need to park by the church and walk for around a mile (be warned that it is uphill and can be muddy). Walking through the front gate of Breamore House (the house is open to the public one day a week but there is an unmarked footpath through the grounds at all times), to the left past the clock tower, the path goes into the woods. Walking upwards, and ignoring all the paths to the left and right, you eventually get to the top of the woods and bear left until you reach a big sign showing the location of the Mizmaze.
The maze is at the centre of a clump of yew trees. Unlike other English turf mazes, it is enclosed by a fence and cannot be walked upon. However, you will get a good view and, if my visit is typical, you are likely to have the place to yourself.
History and Design of the Breamore Maze
The first record of the maze is in 1783, but it is thought to be of medieval origin. Local tradition is that it was cut by monks from a nearby monastery for penitential purposes: transgressors would be made to crawl the lines of the maze upon their knees.
The maze is of a circular design, a labyrinth cut into quarters by a Christian cross. It is of a similar design to that found inside Chartres Cathedral in France.
There is reputedly an Iron Age long barrow close to the Mizmaze, which I did not find. However I did take time to go into the fine Saxon church, which is well worth a visit (look out for the sundial above the door).