A set of railings, gates, piers and urns of mid-late C19 thought to be by Barwell Iron Foundry.
Reasons for Designation
The railings, gates, piers and urns on the south side of the French Garden, Wrest Park are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: in the structure and decorative detailing;
* Historic interest: in the C19 contribution the railings, gates, piers and urns make to a retrospective C17 and early C18 garden design;
* Group Value: for the contribution they make to the structural and aesthetic composition of a Grade I Registered Park and Garden and the association with many other listed structures.
Wrest Park belonged to the Grey family from the Middle Ages until the early C20. In 1833, Thomas Phillip Weddell, later Earl de Grey, inherited Wrest, having already spent much time there as a young man demonstrating his early abilities as an amateur architect in the design of the two lodges at Silsoe in 1826 (both Grade II). Although he had great respect for the gardens this did not extend to the house, which he demolished. The present house was constructed approximately 200m north of the old house in 1834-9 by the Earl with the assistance of James Clephan. The stable buildings to the east (Grade II) and the walled gardens (Grade II) to the west were also added between 1834 and 1839. The site of the former house was laid out to include the present parterres and south lawns. The Earl's appreciation of the existing garden’s qualities meant that little else was done to diminish its former appearance. In 1856 'le Petit Trianon' was built for his children and in 1857 an 'American Garden' was laid out north of the bowling green.
It was during this phase of development, following the construction of the present house, that the railings, gates, piers and urns to the south of the French garden, and the subject of this case, were added and served to divide the parterres from the south lawns.
MATERIALS: cast-iron railings sitting upon a yellow-brick plinth with ovolo-moulded stone coping, and ashlar piers positioned at regular intervals.
DESCRIPTION: the piers are surmounted by urns; at the western end is a C20 cement-based, artificial stone urn of Campana form which is a copy of that at the eastern end and is of little historic or architectural interest. The example at the eastern end is a carved, English limestone vase of c1840 sitting on a bath stone pedestal.
Working eastwards from the C20 urn, positioned either side of the main walk south from the Italian garden, is a pair of carved C19 Carrara marble vases. They are gadrooned to the lower half, beneath a plain frieze and plain undecorated rim. To the side simple handles span the hollow freize, curling under the rim. The whole is supported on a socle and the plinth beneath is stepped.
Marking both the west and east sloping edges of the parterre are a set of four Campana form, Carrara marble vases, two to the east side and two to the west. From the simple tulip form, and the fact they have turned socles and no mouldings or projections, they are thought to be late-C19 in date.
Flanking the main gates leading from the French Garden parterre are a pair of marble statues, one of a boy with a dog and the other a girl with a dog, placed upon piers. These are c.1840 and thought to be by Terence Farrell. Documentary sources suggest the dogs are reminders of 'Dandie' and 'Little Dick', dogs of the Countess Cowper and Amabel Cowper, now buried in the dogs' cemetery.
Towards the eastern end of the railings is a pair of Campana shaped veined marble vases with mask decoration. These date to the second half of the C19 with the lower half being gadrooned beneath a thin band, and the upper sections undecorated apart from a pair of masks carved in relief to either side. The rims of the vases are un-decorated and the whole is supported on a moulded socle.