Open Arts Object: Three highlights from the historic gardens at Wrest Park, Bedfordshire (English Heritage)
Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, is now in the care of English Heritage and in this short film, Dr Susie West takes viewers through the gardens to examine three key parts of the landscape. Wrest Park was the historic family home of the de Greys, until it was sold in 1917. The present house replaced the medieval home, and was built between 1834 and 1839 to designs by the owner, Thomas, Earl de Grey. The terrace, conservatory and formal parterre immediately around the house are also his additions. However, the historic gardens have features from the 1600s, including the sundial of the 1680s. Wrest Park is distinctive for the survival of the eighteenth-century woodland garden, established from 1706 by Henry, 12th Earl of Kent and later Duke of Kent. His granddaughter Jemima added to the gardens during her ownership, including the monumental Mithraic altar of 1748. This stands in a clearing in the woodland, as a monument to the friendship group that Jemima and her husband gathered around them at Wrest Park. The complex evolution of the gardens are better understood by the historic contexts that give meaning to the individual components. The gardens today are open to the public, and form part of the contemporary debate about the importance of high quality public green spaces for enhancing urban and rural life.
This film is also available on our youtube channel
Explore further in our Open University module, A226 Exploring Art & Visual Culture