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Statue of Apollo 40m south of West Half House

A Grade II Listed Building in Silsoe, Central Bedfordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.0016 / 52°0'5"N

Longitude: -0.4127 / 0°24'45"W

OS Eastings: 509059

OS Northings: 234872

OS Grid: TL090348

Mapcode National: GBR G3S.JGR

Mapcode Global: VHFQV.SYNG

Entry Name: Statue of Apollo 40m south of West Half House

Listing Date: 10 January 1985

Last Amended: 18 May 2012

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1113806

English Heritage Legacy ID: 37753

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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Summary

An early C18, English carved statue of Apollo with the serpent at his feet.

Description

MATERIALS: Portland stone.

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

DESCRIPTION: the god is portrayed as a young man with thick hair and a cloak tied by a brooch on his left shoulder to which his right arm is reaching. He stands by a tree stump from which two branches of leaves protrude and on which one end of his cloak lies, the other covering his groin. His left hand rests on his strung bow and the dead python lies between his feet. The rear of the statue lacks relief, suggesting that it was to be viewed from the front only, although two pin holes may have attached carved folded drapery to the rear.

The statue is placed on a pedestal comprising a plinth with a fascia and moulded torus, a die with fielded panels to all sides and a cap with cymatium, torus and cavetto moulding.

History

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 Apollo may date to Henry, Duke of Kent's tenure of the estate (1702-1740) and was probably intended for a niche, perhaps at the front of the old house. It has been in its current position since c 1899. Two pin holes with original dowels are in the back of the figure suggesting that a separate piece of stone, probably depicting carved folds of drapery, was originally attached to the back, but is now lost. The statue and plinth has weathered and there has been some minor damage including a missing toe and fingers. Historic repairs have been made to the base and to two fingers on the left hand.

Reasons for Listing

The Statue of Apollo, 40m south of West Half House, Wrest Park, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Artistic interest: the statue is a carved English sculpture of the early C18 with good quality detailing;
* Historic Interest: it is probably one of the statues commissioned by the Duke of Kent and is associated with the early C18 designed landscape 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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