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The Hawking Party Statue 150m south of The Orangery (formerly listed as Equestrian Statue Group)

A Grade II Listed Building in Silsoe, Central Bedfordshire

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Latitude: 52.0046 / 52°0'16"N

Longitude: -0.4135 / 0°24'48"W

OS Eastings: 508996

OS Northings: 235207

OS Grid: TL089352

Mapcode National: GBR G3S.B86

Mapcode Global: VHFQV.SW74

Entry Name: The Hawking Party Statue 150m south of The Orangery (formerly listed as Equestrian Statue Group)

Listing Date: 10 January 1985

Last Amended: 18 May 2012

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1113801

English Heritage Legacy ID: 37740

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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The Hawking Party Statue, dates to c.1835-45 and was carved by Smith, with additions by Terence Farrell, to the designs of Earl de Grey.


MATERIALS: Ketton stone pedestal with statue probably in Portland stone.

PLAN: rectangular pedestal set on a plinth with statue above.

DESCRIPTION: the plinth has a low ogee mould to the top edge. It projects at each corner to support large moulded brackets ornamented to the lower, curved, facing edge with a bead decoration. The pedestal has rebated panels to the sides with a scotia to the corners. A thin moulding runs through the upper part of the fascia, forming a frieze and the whole us surmounted by a projecting cap with a broad torus moulding forming the edge.

Smith's statue is of a stallion moving forward with its front left leg raised and its head tilted to its right. Its rear right leg is set forward and its tail, which is carved from a separate piece of stone, is swept around its right flank. Farrells' additions include the woman riding side saddle gazing upwards, her legs on the left side of the horse, on a richly draped saddle. She is wearing a hat and gloves; her right hand is raised and on her left is a hawk. To the right of the horse is an adult male attendant wearing boots, a hat and a belted tunic. He is leaning backwards, with his right leg set forward, and is pointing forwards with his left hand. To the left of a horse is a younger page, dressed in a similar way to the adult, holding his cap by his left side. His raised right arm clasps the haunch of the horse and he is looking upwards.


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 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.

The statue was commissioned by Earl de Grey, whose memoirs recall that a man named Smith carved the horse from a sketch by the Earl himself at a cost of £100. The horse (without a rider) was placed originally over the archway on the north side of the stable complex, leading into the stable-yard. The Earl became concerned that the piece could not be seen and became covered in moss, so he sketched a figure of a female rider to sit on it and commissioned an Irish sculptor, Terence Farrell, to carve the woman with her falcon and two pages. Once completed, the piece was set on a plinth and relocated atop a grass mound in its current position to the south of the Orangery.

Reasons for Listing

The Hawking Party Statue,150m south of the Orangery at Wrest Park, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: It was designed in two phases by Earl de Grey, which adds considerably to its architectural interest;
* Artistic interest: Carved by two relatively unknown sculptors, the statue has good quality detailing to the figures and pedestal and has a prominent position on a grass mound;
* Group Value: For its contribution to the structural and aesthetic composition of a Grade I Registered Park and Garden and its association with many other listed buildings.

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