The Garden and Garden Facade of the House
The Garden Facade
Detail of Garden Facade
House with garden wall
The Staircase Hall
The Staircase Hall
Plasterwork in Staircase Hall
Staircase Hall ceiling
Garden Facade terrace
View from Archer Pavilion to the House
The garden with Bowling Green House
Bowling Green House
The walkway leading to Archer Pavilion
The Long Canal and Archer Pavilion
Interior of Archer Pavilion
Earlier Houses: There was an earlier house that was replaced by the current house.
House & Family History: In 1639 Thomas Carew wrote his country house poem "To My Friend G.N. from Wrest" that described the old house at Wrest. This house was demolished between 1834 and 1840 and replaced by the current house, which was built between 1834 and 1839 to designs of its owner, Thomas de Grey, 2nd Earl de Grey. Lord de Grey was a dilettante in the best sense of the word: a lover of beauty and design, an amateur architect, the first president of the Institute of British Architects (later the RIBA), and first lord of the Admiralty. During trips to Paris de Grey was inspired by French architecture and became determined to build a French style house on his estate in Bedfordshire. He very likely used as his guide the many French architectural books that were in circulation at the time, such as Jacques-François Blondel's 1752 publication "Architecture Française." Consequently, Wrest has some of the earliest Rococo Revival interiors in England.
Garden & Outbuildings: The gardens at Wrest are among the largest and most important in Britain. They were recognized for their importance early on: in 1735 the garden and garden houses were mapped by John Rocquein. The early 18th century garden of 92 acres was very likely designed in the formal, French style for Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Kent, by Henry Wise and George London. Between 1758 and 1760 Capability Brown "naturalized" the garden in his trademark style, including ringing the central formal area with a canal and woodland. The Park today is divided by a wide gravel central walk, which continues as the Long Canal, which, in turn, leads to the famous Archer Pavilion, a domed Baroque pavilion designed by Thomas Archer and completed in 1711. The parterre and marble fountains were added in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The 2nd Earl de Grey designed the Orangery and the Bath House in the 19th century.
Architect: Henry WiseDate: Early 18th century
Architect: George LondonDate: Early 18th century
Architect: James ClephanDate: 1834-39
Architect: Henry FlitcroftDate: 1749
Architect: Robert GrumboldDate: 1693-95
Architect: Batty LangleyDate: 1735
Architect: John WoolfeDate: Circa 1790
Architect: Edward StevensDate: 1770
Architect: William Oldham ChambersDate: Circa 1766
Architect: Thomas SmithDate: Circa 1830s
Architect: Thomas Philip De Grey (Grey)Date: 1834-39
Vitruvius Britannicus: I, pl. 33, 1715. C. Ivth. Pls. 30-33, 1739.
John Bernard (J.B.) Burke, published under the title of A Visitation of the Seats and Arms of the Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. II, p. 34, 1853.
John Preston (J.P.) Neale, published under the title of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, among other titles: Vol. I, 1818.
Country Life: XLII, 112 [Garden Pavilion], 1917. CXLVII, 1250, 1970. CXLVIII, 18, 1970.
Title: Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1600-1840, A - HARDBACK
Author: Colvin, Howard
Year Published: 2008
Reference: pgs. 72, 243, 257, 382, 451, 631, 958, 985, 1150
Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press
Book Type: Hardback
House Listed: Grade I
Park Listed: Grade I
Past Seat of: Anthony Grey, 11th Earl of Kent, 17th century; Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Kent, early 18th century. Philip Yorke, 2nd Earl of Hardwicke, 18th century. Thomas Philip de Grey, 2nd Earl de Grey, 3rd Baron Grantham, and 6th Baron Lucas, 19th century.
Current Ownership Type: English Heritage
Primary Current Ownership Use: Visitor Attraction