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Latitude: 52.0039 / 52°0'13"N
Longitude: -0.4086 / 0°24'31"W
OS Eastings: 509336
OS Northings: 235131
OS Grid: TL093351
Mapcode National: GBR G3S.CJ4
Mapcode Global: VHFQV.VWVQ
Entry Name: Chinese Bridge across north end of Broad Water
Listing Date: 10 January 1985
Last Amended: 18 May 2012
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1158909
English Heritage Legacy ID: 37759
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
An ornamental bridge designed by the Countess Cowper in 1876, in a Chinese style.
MATERIALS: constructed of yellow brick, with limestone dressings.
PLAN: single elliptical arched span.
DESCRIPTION: the bridge is detailed with rusticated voussoirs at its lower edge. The parapet has a brick dentil course to its base, recessed panels, and corbelled brick pier to the centre. The central and end piers have ball finials. There are stones either side of the bridge which bear the 1876 construction date and monogram of Lady Anne Cowper surmounted by a coronet cipher.
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.
Earl de Grey died in 1859 succeeded by his daughter Anne Florence and her husband George, 6th Earl Cowper. They showed some interest in Wrest, adding statuary and the Chinese Bridge which replaced a previous timber bridge which had been erected in the 1760s. Prior to this there was an earlier bridge on the site which was built around the time of Lancelot Brown's alterations to the gardens (1750s), however it fell down and had to be replaced. The present stone and brick structure designed by Countess Cowper, and dating from 1876, was built by the workmen on the estate
The Chinese Bridge, Wrest Park, erected in 1876, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural - The bridge is of a unique architectural design which reflects the taste and interests of The Countess Cowper;
* Artistic - It displays a good level of craftsmanship and detailing;
* 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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