Chinese Bridge across north end of Broad Water


Heritage Category: Listed Building

Grade: II

List Entry Number: 1158909

Date first listed: 10-Jan-1985

Date of most recent amendment: 18-May-2012



Ordnance survey map of Chinese Bridge across north end of Broad Water
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1158909 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 19-Nov-2018 at 11:32:28.



The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Silsoe

National Grid Reference: TL0933635130


An ornamental bridge designed by the Countess Cowper in 1876, in a Chinese style.

Reasons for Designation

The Chinese Bridge, Wrest Park, erected in 1876, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural - The bridge is of a unique architectural design which reflects the taste and interests of The Countess Cowper; * Artistic - It displays a good level of craftsmanship and detailing; * Group Value - For its contribution to the structural and aesthetic composition of a Grade I Registered Park and Garden and its association with many other listed buildings.


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.

Earl de Grey died in 1859 succeeded by his daughter Anne Florence and her husband George, 6th Earl Cowper. They showed some interest in Wrest, adding statuary and the Chinese Bridge which replaced a previous timber bridge which had been erected in the 1760s. Prior to this there was an earlier bridge on the site which was built around the time of Lancelot Brown's alterations to the gardens (1750s), however it fell down and had to be replaced. The present stone and brick structure designed by Countess Cowper, and dating from 1876, was built by the workmen on the estate


MATERIALS: constructed of yellow brick, with limestone dressings.

PLAN: single elliptical arched span.

DESCRIPTION: the bridge is detailed with rusticated voussoirs at its lower edge. The parapet has a brick dentil course to its base, recessed panels, and corbelled brick pier to the centre. The central and end piers have ball finials. There are stones either side of the bridge which bear the 1876 construction date and monogram of Lady Anne Cowper surmounted by a coronet cipher.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 37759

Legacy System: LBS


Books and journals
Roscoe, I, Hardy, E, Sullivan, M G, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660-1851, ((2009))
Smith, N, Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, English Heritage Guidebook, (2008)
Cole, D, Beresford, C and Shackell, A, Historical Survey of Wrest Park, (2005),
Davies, J P S , Report on the Garden Ornaments at Wrest Park 1700-1917, (2007),
Donald Insall Associates, Wrest Park, Bedfordshire, Conservation Management Plan, (2009),

End of official listing