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Statue of Lady Jemima, 27m South of the West Half House

A Grade II* Listed Building in Silsoe, Central Bedfordshire

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Latitude: 52.0017 / 52°0'5"N

Longitude: -0.4131 / 0°24'47"W

OS Eastings: 509036

OS Northings: 234879

OS Grid: TL090348

Mapcode National: GBR G3S.JCF

Mapcode Global: VHFQV.SYHD

Entry Name: Statue of Lady Jemima, 27m South of the West Half House

Listing Date: 10 January 1985

Last Amended: 18 May 2012

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1113805

English Heritage Legacy ID: 37751

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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An C18, English lead statue of a seated female figure, probably by John Cheere (1709-1789), believed to be Jemima, Marchioness Grey, reading a book.


MATERIALS: Portland stone pedestal set on a plinth with lead statue above.

DESCRIPTON: The statue is approximately 2.5m high and comprises a mid-C18 pedestal, with moulded base and cap, and panels to each side of the die, with lead statue above. The left arm of the figure is leaning on a substantial urn ornamented with bold gadrooning to the body of the vase. Her head is partially covered by the top of her classical drapery which covers her back and passes down her left shoulder and across her legs. She is holding a book, the detailing of which suggests printed script. Her dress has a detailed hem ornamented with a zig-zag pattern with the form of a four-leaf clover within each segment of the pattern. On her feet she wears classical sandals held by a heart-shaped buckle. Graffiti carved into her back includes the date '1750', numerous letters and at a higher level, '1950/REPAIRED or REPAINTED' with undecipherable names beneath.


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 Duke died in 1740. The estate passed to his grandaughter Jemima who had recently married Philip Yorke, the son of the Lord Chancellor, Lord Hardwicke. They showed great interest in the garden and had great influence in its development. In 1758 Jemima commissioned Lancelot (Capability) Brown but he was constrained by her high regard for the existing landscape and reluctance to make significant alterations to the garden created by her grandfather. Brown's alterations were limited to laying the waters together around the garden and making the previously straight canals meander in a more naturalistic manner. Various buildings including the Chinese Summer house (listed Grade II in 1985) and Chinese bridge and the Bath house (listed at Grade II* in 1985) were added under Jemima's instruction.

The statue is believed to have been erected in c.1748 and represents Jemima Yorke, 2nd Marchioness Grey (1723-1797), the grandaughter and heiress of Henry de Grey, 1st Duke of Kent.

Reasons for Listing

* Architectural interest: It is probably the work of John Cheere, a renowned sculptor of lead statues in the C18 with a number of highly graded statues to his name;
* Artistic interest: the sculpture is of good quality, richly detailed and is a rare example of a mid C18 lead sculpture depicting a seated female figure;
* Historic interest: for its association with Jemima, Marchioness Grey, a highly influential figure in the development of the garden at Wrest Park;
* 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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