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Le Petit Trianon (Also Known As the Wendy House), Silsoe

Description: Le Petit Trianon (Also Known As the Wendy House)

Grade: II
Date Listed: 21 May 2012
English Heritage Building ID: 1402866

OS Grid Reference: TL0919135552
OS Grid Coordinates: 509191, 235553
Latitude/Longitude: 52.0077, -0.4106

Locality: Silsoe
County: Central Bedfordshire
Country: England
Postcode: MK45 4HP

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Listing Text


A playhouse of 1856 known as Le Petit Trianon.

Reason for Listing

Le Petit Trianon, built at Wrest Park in 1856 is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: for the level of detail in both the structure and decorative detailing of what is essentially a subtle building in an elaborate landscape;
* Historic interest: for the contemporary contribution it makes to a retrospective C17 and early C18 garden design;
* Materials: for its unusual use of decorative split log 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 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 as a playhouse or summerhouse and is consistent with the fashion at that period for the insertion of rustic wooden buildings into garden landscapes. The roof structure and much of the split log work was replaced in the late C20 following the collapse of a tree on to the building. In 1857 an 'American Garden' was laid out north of the bowling green.


MATERIALS: built using split logs on a timber frame, raised on a low brick wall with tiled roof and brick stack.

PLAN: built on a linear plan form with a central entrance to front elevation.

EXTERIOR: the Petit Trianon is a single storey small log structure built using split logs on a timber frame. The building, raised on a low brick wall, has a tiled roof, a tall, square plan, gable stack, with a hexagonal shaft and moulded cap. The tripartite building has a central gable entrance with decorative split log work forming geometric patterning both on the door and above. In places this decoration replicates the diamond leaded lights of the casement windows. There are double casement windows in each of the end bays and a single casement each side of the door in the central bay, all of which appear to retain their original window furniture. The rear elevation is plain, compared to the front, with a single off centre entrance and no window openings. The gable ends are simply detailed with decorative split log work and plain carved bargeboards.

INTERIOR: internally there are three rooms which, in 1885 were described as including a kitchen, scullery and sitting room. A workshop - sundial which told the time world wide is also documented although there is no evidence for this either internally or externally. All the walls are lined with a plain tongue and groove panelling and the floors are of tile throughout. A simple fireplace with a brick surround and basket grate survives in the room to the right of the front door and a panelled wall cupboard with L shaped hinges also survives immediately opposite the door.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.