Wrest Park - History and Facts | History Hit

Wrest Park

Silsoe, England, United Kingdom

Peta Stamper

21 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Wrest Park

Wrest Park is a country estate including a listed country house and restored Wrest Park Gardens, located in Bedfordshire, England. A unique example of a 19th century English imitation of a 18th century French chateau, the house is framed by 3 glorious centuries of English garden design.

Wrest Park history

In the 18th century, Henry the Duke of Kent set up Wrest’s huge formal woodland garden, enclosed by canals. The ordered garden landscape was decorated with statues and garden buildings, including a spectacular Baroque pavilion. However, it was his granddaughter Jemima who showed an interest in gardens, and had leading designer ‘Capability’ Brown remodel the part in the new English landscape style.

Jemima’s great-nephew, Thomas Robinson, 2nd Earl de Grey inherited the outstanding garden and crumbling house with medieval origins. The Earl destroyed the remaining house and between 1834 and 1839 had his new house built in the French style of architecture.

During World War One, Wrest was rented to the American ambassador and used as a military hospital for convalescing troops. However after a fire in September 1916, the troops had to be evacuated. Wrest fell into decline after the war until 2006 when English Heritage took over the house and has since been restoring the gardens to their state pre-1917.

Wrest Park today

Explore the 90 acres of gardens that reflect styles from France, Italy and England, boasting lush greens, an ornate marble fountain, a Chinese Temple and Bridge, and statues. A highlight is undoubtedly the Archer Pavilion, built between 1709 and 1711, with its stunning Baroque interior. In the Dairy Sculpture Gallery, look out for the Portland Stone Neptune and bronze sundial made in 1682.

Tours of the Archaeological Collections Store happen on the first Monday of every month at 2pm, and there are free tours of the gardens with a volunteer guide of the Upper and Great Gardens. For children, be sure to stop at the great play park with its own pavilion and zip wire, right next to the cafe.

Getting to Wrest Park

Wrest Park is along Park Avenue just off the A6 at Silsoe, between Luton (27 minutes drive) and Bedford (25 minutes drive) and close to the A1.

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