In June 2012, Wrest Park opens a new gallery showcasing some of the estate's most beautiful historic statues and sculpture in a lovely building which was once the dairy.
With support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage has converted the disused ornamental dairy - which supplied butter and cream to the de Grey family - into an intimate gallery bringing together precious garden statues which were once features of the 90-acre landscape, but which today are too fragile to remain outside.
Many of the figures in the gallery date to the early 18th century and originally belonged in the formal gardens laid out by Henry, Duke of Kent, whose family was responsible for their original layout.
On your visit, you will see everything from a magnificent Portland stone statue of Neptune clutching his trident, to an elegant bronze sundial signed by its maker Henry Wynne and dated 1682.
The gallery also explores the history of garden sculpture at Wrest Park and the stories behind each of the sculptures on display. The illusion that the figures are subtly placed back in the landscape is provided by a translucent voile backdrop. This backdrop is illustrated with an 18th century watercolour of the garden by artist Pieter Tillemans.
Other highlights include a pair of playful commedia dell'arte figures, Harlequin and Columbine, attributed to the workshop of renowned English sculptor John Cheere and four charming Italian marble busts, representing Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, thought at one time to have welcomed guests to the kitchen garden.
The new gallery provides the first chance for to see inside the ornamental dairy, a part of the estate never previously opened to the public. The dairy, like the stunning French chateau-style mansion at Wrest Park, was built by Thomas, Earl de Grey in 1830 and in its heyday supplied the Earl and his family with butter and cream.