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This English Heritage property has one of the most magnificent gardens in England, yet one of the least well known. Unlike 'Capability' Brown's natural landscape styling, favoured during the late 18th century, Wrest Park's formal gardens provide a fascinating history of gardening styles, laid out over 150 years and inspired by the great gardens of Versailles in France.Wrest Park was the home of the De Grey family - whose serried monuments fill the nearby De Grey Mausoleum -from the 13th century until 1917.
The gardens are celebrated for their rare survival of a formal early 18th-century layout of wooded walks and canals, centred on the architectural highlight of the pavilion designed by Thomas Archer in 1710. Subsequent generations added garden buildings such as the Bath House and the Chinese Pavilion, valuing the special atmosphere of the established garden even when more fashionable landscapers would have swept it away.
The old manor house was demolished when the present house was completed by 1834. This was designed by Thomas, Earl de Grey, an entusiast for 18th-century French architecture. It is set further north than the site of the old house, and new formal gardens were laid out between the mansion and the woodland garden. The Orangery, Italian garden and Parterre with magnificent lead statues date from the 19th century.
Bus - Stagecoach 81 to Silsoe village, then short walk (on Summer Sundays bus serves Wrest Park directly)