Group of Five Altars approximately 50m south of Ladies Lake


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:


© Crown Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2020. 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 - 1311237.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 13-Aug-2020 at 04:04:35.


Statutory Address:

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

Central Bedfordshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


A group of five ancient Greek altars, from the late Hellenistic period (late C2-C1 BC).

Reasons for Designation

The group of five Greek altars approximately 50m south of Ladies Lake, Wrest Park is designated at Grade II* for the following principal reasons: * Archaeological interest: dating from the late C2 to C1BC, the Greek altars have high intrinsic interest * Artistic interest: the altars are notable examples of early artistic and decorative forms, which display a high level of craftsmanship through their elaborately carved symbolism; * Historic interest: the altars have historic interest because they were purchased as antiquities by Amabel Countess de Grey in 1817 to add to the estate's collection. * Group composition: the altars have been in situ, in their present setting, since 1817. * Group Value: the altars make a positive contribution to the structural and aesthetic composition of a Grade I Registered Park and Garden.


Wrest Park belonged to the Grey family from the Middle Ages until the early C20. After Jemima, Marchioness de Grey died in 1797, the estate passed to her daughter Amabel and with it Wrest entered a period of consolidation, in part enforced by the severe financial pressures of the Napoleonic wars. The situation had eased by 1816 when Amabel was created Countess de Grey in her own right. The group of five antique Greek altars were purchased by Amabel in 1817 from T Beauclere Esq of Muswell Hill and placed in their present location. It is not known where Beauclere got the altars from. The altars are from the late Hellenistic period and date from the late C2 - C1BC. They were listed as five separate items in January 1985.


MATERIALS: the altars are carved from white marble.

DESCRIPTION: four of the altars are set around the edge of a circular lawn amidst trees, with the fifth altar set in the centre. They are cylindrical in form, approximately 1m in height, and have thin projecting cornices and simple marble caps to the top. The altars are set upon square, stone bases, and each is carved with four buchranea (Ox heads), with festoons of flowers hanging between them. The central altar bears the following Greek inscription:


Askalon is near Gaza.


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


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),


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 13 Jun 2003
Reference: IOE01/10522/02
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Derek E. Wharton. Source Historic England Archive
Archive image, may not represent current condition of site.
To view this image please use Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or Edge.

Your Contributions

Do you know more about this entry?

The following information has been contributed by users volunteering for our Enriching The List project. For small corrections to the List Entry please see our Minor Amendments procedure.

The information and images below are the opinion of the contributor, are not part of the official entry and do not represent the official position of Historic England. We have not checked that the contributions below are factually accurate. Please see our terms and conditions. If you wish to report an issue with a contribution or have a question please email [email protected].