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2 Roman baths immediately in front of the terrace of Wrest Park House (to East and West)

A Grade II Listed Building in Silsoe, Central Bedfordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.0078 / 52°0'28"N

Longitude: -0.4117 / 0°24'42"W

OS Eastings: 509114

OS Northings: 235565

OS Grid: TL091355

Mapcode National: GBR G3S.4QF

Mapcode Global: VHFQV.TS6P

Entry Name: 2 Roman baths immediately in front of the terrace of Wrest Park House (to East and West)

Listing Date: 21 May 2012

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1402825

Location: Silsoe, Central Bedfordshire, MK45

County: Central Bedfordshire

Civil Parish: Silsoe

Traditional County: Bedfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Bedfordshire

Church of England Parish: Silsoe

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans

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Summary

A pair of ornamental baths, described as 'Roman Baths' forming part of the garden landscape at Wrest Park. Early C19, and thought to be of Italian origin.

Description

MATERIALS: stone, standing on York stone slabs.

DESCRIPTION: the baths stand on the east and west sides of the South Parterre at Wrest Park, and are set against the south wall of the house terrace. They have rounded ends which are decorated with lions heads each clasping a large ring in their jaws. The baths are elevated on turned pieces of marble, and both have evidently been damaged and have undergone repair.

History

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 location of the two Roman baths on the South Parterre may indicate that they were placed there at this time. Both baths are visible in the Country Life illustrated article of July 9th 1904. They are described in the 1917 sale catalogue for Wrest Park as " 2 Old Stone Roman baths with lion mask heads at sides on feet". 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.

Reasons for Listing

The Roman baths on the South Parterre of Wrest Park are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: for their provenance and association with the evolution of the historic garden landscape at Wrest Park;
* Group Value: for their contribution to the structural and aesthetic composition of a Grade I Registered Park and Garden and their association with the many other listed garden structures and buildings located within the historic garden landscape at Wrest Park.


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