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Statue of Infant with a Rabbit approximately 120m south-east of Bowling Green House

A Grade II Listed Building in Silsoe, Central Bedfordshire

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Latitude: 52.0034 / 52°0'12"N

Longitude: -0.4123 / 0°24'44"W

OS Eastings: 509085

OS Northings: 235075

OS Grid: TL090350

Mapcode National: GBR G3S.BLH

Mapcode Global: VHFQV.SXX2

Entry Name: Statue of Infant with a Rabbit approximately 120m south-east of Bowling Green House

Listing Date: 10 January 1985

Last Amended: 18 May 2012

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1113803

English Heritage Legacy ID: 37744

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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A C18 statue of an Infant with a Rabbit, restored in the C20.



PLAN: square pedestal set on a stepped plinth with statue above.

DESCRIPTION: the statue is approximately 2m high in total and depicts an infant with a rabbit behind its left foot, partially covered with the child's cloak which is draped over the infant's back and clasped diagonally across the front of its body. The child stands awkwardly with its right leg slightly forward and upper body and head turned slightly to the right. His left hand is holding a piece of cloth or fruit against his right shoulder and his right arm rests on a tree stump with carved foliage. The statue is placed on a pedestal comprising a plain stepped plinth, a die with fielded panels to all sides and a moulded cap.


Wrest Park belonged to the Grey family from the Middle Ages until the early C20. In 1702, Wrest became the property of Henry de Grey who, by 1710, had become the Duke of Kent. Henry was determined to improve the status of Wrest. At this time the gardens to the south were enlarged, alterations made to the water courses, and a number of garden buildings were constructed. A summer house was placed by the mill pond and a greenhouse was added to the Orange Garden. The architect Thomas Archer was responsible for many of these structures including the Pavilion (Grade I) which marked the southern limit of the garden as defined by the Old Brook. The alignment of the Old Brook is still maintained as the boundary between the parishes of Silsoe and Gravenhurst. Cain Hill was incorporated into the landscape as an eye catcher, its presence emphasised by the geometric axis which, eventually, led east from the house and north-east from the Archer Pavilion partly in the form of avenues.

In the 1720s additional land was acquired, various alterations to the canals were carried out and several garden buildings were commissioned, from the Italian architects Filippo Juvarra and Giacomo Leoni, but also from others, predominantly Nicholas Hawksmoor, William Kent and James Gibbs. Of these the Temple of Diana (now demolished), the West Half House (Grade II) and the East Half House (Grade II) were built. The allees (avenues) and squares, either side of the Great Canal, were also created by 1726 marking the peak of the formal garden at Wrest. Two plans drawn by Rocque in 1735 and 1737 illustrate some of these changes. In 1729 work resumed with additions including an amphitheatre to the north of the bowling green and the creation of the serpentine canal. A greenhouse (on the site of the current Orangery) and the addition to, and enlargement of Bowling Green House (Grade II*) were also completed, both by Batty Langley.

The statue of the Infant with a Rabbit dates from the early C18 and is probably associated with the Duke of Kent's tenure of the estate, although it is not known when the statue was moved to its current position. The statue and plinth have weathered and there has been some significant damage to the child's head, arms and feet, some of which was repaired in c.2009.

Reasons for Listing

The statue of the Infant with a Rabbit, approximately 120m to the south-east of Bowling Green House, Wrest Park, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Artistic interest: the statue is a carved sculpture of the early C18 with good quality detailing;
* Historic Interest: it is probably associated with the early C18 designed landscape at Wrest Park established by the 12th Duke of Kent;
* 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 structures.

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