Uncovered Treasures at Wrest Park
Join our collections team and discover a treasure trove of unique and special objects not usually on display to the public, spanning 2,000 years of England's history.
An Aladdin's Cave
Go beyond the grounds and discover an Aladdin’s cave of treasures in our Archaeological Collections Store. Re-purposed from floor to ceiling, the store at Wrest Park houses over 153,000 historical artefacts spanning over 2,000 years of England’s history.
Visitors will now have the opportunity to journey through history discovering collections as varied as pre-historic antlers and Roman bridges, to Victorian banisters and roof beams.
Having previously been kept in five buildings across the country, a team of documentation officers, curators, museum technicians and archaeologists - all led by English Heritage’s conservation team - checked, documented, repacked and managed the movement of over 80 lorry loads of wooden pallets of crates, boxes and more challenging architectural items. This included an 8.5m cast-iron beam from St George’s Hospital in London. The artefacts at Wrest Park add up to a third of English Heritage’s total stored collection.
If you join a tour, highlights could include a collection from Kirby Hall in Corby, containing items such as fragments of 17th-century painted window glass, which Sir Christopher Hatton designed to impress Queen Elizabeth I; glass seals from wine bottles; clay pipes with intriguing designs, and ornate clips and buckles that used to be sewn into garments.
Larger objects such as bell jacks from the roof of Colombia Market based on 16th century tradesmen towering at almost 8 feet, can be seen lining up amongst the enormous shelves of architectural history as guides and volunteers lead visitors round the store.
During the summer season, tours take place on the first Monday of the month, and demonstrate how we meet the challenges of caring for these precious objects, and what they tell us about the amazing properties in our care.
During the winter, tours can differ - please see Events page for details.
A team of volunteers play a vital role, leading tours, helping with documentation and assisting with essential tasks such as monitoring bug traps, surface-cleaning of objects or repacking new finds as the collection continues to grow with objects from excavations at English Heritage historic sites.