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The grounds and parts of the House at Wrest Park are now open for you to visit. You now need to book your timed tickets in advance. We have introduced limits on visitor numbers to help keep everyone safe, and you won’t be able to visit without your booking confirmation. If you’re a Member, your ticket will be free, but you still need to book in advance. There are other new steps in place to ensure everyone’s safety, so your visit will be a little different.
The beautiful gardens, woodlands and grounds are open for you to enjoy while keeping to social distancing.The house is open from 10am – 4pm with a new one-way system in place. The ante library, library and print room will be open, while other areas including the drawing room, staircase hall and dining room will be open to view only to ensure social distancing.
We've made some changes to help keep you safe, and things might be a little different when you visit. Here's everything you need to know.
From 29 October - 1 November, treat your little pumpkins to a Halloween themed chocolate workshop for kids at Wrest Park. Discover the history of cocoa and how it's grown from our partners Hotel Chocolat before getting hands on and making your own scary chocolate masterpiece. Accompanying grown-ups can also indulge by picking up a treat from the famous Chocmobile, which will be at Wrest Park during each day the workshops are held.
Places are £10 per child and booking is essential as places are limited. You can book your place on the workshop directly from our partners Hotel Chocolat. In order to take part, you must also have an admission ticket for Wrest Park on the day of your visit. To ensure you can attend your preferred time slot, we recommend checking availability and booking your Wrest Park admission ticket first.Book your place
Discover our hidden gems including an ornate marble fountain, the 18th century Bowling Green House and a striking Chinese Bridge and Temple. Stroll up the Long Water to the spectacular Archer Pavilion with its stunning interior making it the focal point of the gardens. Marvel at the fancy French curves and intricate Italian geometry of the restored bedding displays. From autumnal reds to lush greens in the summer, explore Wrest Park’s gardens anew throughout the seasons.
The de Grey family establish the manor of Wrest as their main residence.
The family fortunes peak when Edward IV makes Edmund Grey his Lord Treasurer in 1463 and Earl of Kent in 1465.
Having squandered his inheritance, Edmund’s grandson Richard sells most of the family’s estates, including Wrest, to pay his debts. His half-brother Henry buys Wrest back 12 years later.
Amabel Benn, wife of Henry, the 10th Earl, together with their son, Anthony, and his wife, Mary, rebuild the north front of the house, lay out large formal gardens and create the Long Water.
Find out more about the history of Wrest Park
Henry Grey, Duke of Kent, inspired by what he has seen abroad, creates the Great Garden, a formal woodland garden centred on the Long Water.
Henry’s granddaughter Jemima and her husband, Philip, bring in Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown to soften the edges of the gardens while keeping their formal spirit – preserving, in Brown’s words, the ‘Mystery of the Gardens’.
Thomas Robinson, 2nd Earl de Grey, demolishes the old house, builds a new mansion in the French style and complements it with formal flower gardens.
See highlights from the collection at Wrest Park
The last Grey to live at Wrest is Anne, the dowager Countess Cowper, a staunch evangelical and philanthropist. Her son Francis, 7th Earl Cowper, inherits, but visits Wrest rarely.
Francis’s nephew Auberon (‘Bron’) Herbert leases Wrest to the American ambassador, Whitelaw Reid.
Wrest is used as a convalescent home and later a military hospital, which is forced to close in September 1916 after a fire.
Bron Herbert is killed in action, and his sister Nan sells Wrest to brewing and mining magnate John George Murray.
The Sun Insurance Company buys Wrest for its wartime headquarters. Many of its employees live on site, sleeping in the converted stables or dormitory huts in the grounds.
The Ministry of Works buys Wrest and leases it to the National Institute of Agricultural Engineering (later the Silsoe Institute), which becomes world renowned for its research into farm mechanisation and trials of new techniques and equipment.
English Heritage takes over the house and eastern service buildings, and embarks on a 20-year plan to restore the gardens to their pre-1917 appearance.
Learn more about the history of Wrest Park