Head gardener's house, c.1838-39. Possibly designed by James Clephan for Earl de Grey.
Reason for Listing
The Garden House, Wrest Park is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: its design makes a strong aesthetic statement, and as the first structure to be seen by carriages approaching the house down the drive from Silsoe it forms a prelude to the house visible in the distance at the far end of the north garden wall;
* Historic interest: it is of historic interest for its association with Wrest Park, for its functional role in the life of the estate and as a vivid representation of the social hierarchy of the estate workers, particularly in relation to the Coachman's Cottage at the south end of the west wall of the garden, listed at Grade II;
* Group Value: it has particularly strong group value with the Grade II listed walled kitchen garden and associated service structures, forms an important part of the Grade I Registered Park and Garden and its many other listed buildings and makes an aesthetic contribution to the design of the whole.
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 Garden House (the head gardener's cottage) is incorporated into the north-west corner of the walled garden and was originally included in its list description. 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.
MATERIALS: built of cream coloured brick with slate mansard roofs.
PLAN: the house stands at the north-west corner of the walled garden, a square block of two storeys with attics and cellars projecting out from the garden wall, continuing as a single storey range behind the north garden wall.
EXTERIOR: the ground and first floors have rusticated quoins, and the division between these two and between the first floor and the attics are marked by pronounced string courses. The north and west elevations contain one sash window to ground and first floors, and the east elevation has a sash window to the first floor only. These windows have segmental arches with pronounced keystones and a recess below the sill. All three elevations have oval windows to the attics as eyebrow dormers. The south elevation has two casement dormer windows in the roof to either side of a broad chimney stack. The south is the entrance elevation, opening onto the Garden House garden which is reached through a door in the west garden wall immediately south of the house. The single storey range to the east contains two sash windows and one door under a segmental arch. The entrance to the house is through a small single storey wing in the south elevation.
INTERIOR: the single storey entrance wing also contains a bathroom to the west of the front door. The stairs are opposite the front door, with a room with fireplace and a kitchen in the single storey range to the east, and a living room with fireplace to the west. The plan of the first floor and attic is the same, with one large room above the living room, and a smaller room to the south. The first floor has no surviving fireplaces, while the attics have two chimney breasts or blocked fireplaces. All surviving detail is plain.
SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: the south boundary of the garden to the house is defined by a low brick wall.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.