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Wrest Park, Silsoe, Luton (Bedfordshire)

This is one of the most magnificent gardens in England, yet one of the least well known.

Places to stay near here

Summary

  • 18th century buildings
  • Art and sculpture
  • Gift shop
  • Information provided
  • Historic Property
  • Gardens
  • Audio guide
  • Free car parking (on site)

Introduction

This is 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.

History to the present day

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 1709-11. 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 1839. This was designed by Thomas, Earl de Grey, an enthusiast 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 1830s.

Other facilities

A new visitor centre was opened in August 2011 in the walled garden.

Refreshments are served in The Tea Room.

Arrival information and how to find us

Address: Wrest Park, Silsoe, Luton, Bedfordshire, MK45 4HR, United Kingdom

Opening times: July: Gardens open with limited access from 10.00am until 6.00pm, the house is closed.

1st August - 18th September the gardens, house and visitor centre are open Thursday to Monday 10.00am until 6.00pm. The visitor centre will be open the same hours also on a Wednesday but the gardens and house will be closed.

19th September - 31st October the gardens, house and visitor centre are open Thursday to Monday 10.00am until 5.00pm. The visitor centre will be open the same hours also on a Wednesday but the gardens and house will be closed.

Prices: 
Adult: £8.00 Concession: £7.20 Child: £4.80 Family: £20.80 EH members: Free

A special events will have different prices.

It is also worth noting that the house or garden buildings may be closed due to an event that could be booked, please check before visiting. 

The house may close if an event is booked. The gardens may also close early.

Photography copyright of English Heritage Photo Library