Wrest Park, Silsoe
This is one of the most magnificent yet least well-known gardens in England. Unlike ‘Capability Bown’s’ natural landscape styling, favoured during the late 18th century, Wrest Park’s formal gardens provide a fascinating history of gardening styles, laid out over 150 years and inspired by the great gardens of Versailles in France. The gardens are overlooked by a stylish French-style 18th century mansion and contain wonderful garden buildings.
Houghton House, Ampthill
Houghton House today is the shell of a 17th century mansion commanding magnificent views, reputedly the inspiration for the ‘House Beautiful’ in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.
It was built around 1615 for Mary, Dowager Countess of Pembroke, in a mixture of Jacobean and Classical styles: the ground floors of two Italianate loggias survive, possibly the work of Inigo Jones.
This Georgian Grade 1 listed building is of considerable architectural interest. Designed by Sir John Soane, it is recognised as the most complete, surviving example of his work. Set in 33 acres of parkland, originally landscaped by Humphrey Repton, many of the original features may still be seen in the grounds, including spacious walled gardens, an ice house and a peaceful woodland walk. Moggerhanger Park was originally the home of Godfrey Thornton, Governor of the Bank of England in 1793-95. Godfrey was a cousin of William Wilberforce and a member of the Clapham Sect, a group of Christians who worked to improve society in 18th Century Britain.
Bedford is the historic county town of Bedfordshire and worth a trip in, whether you are looking to wine, dine, go to one of the lovely parks, shop or take in some of its history. There is plenty to do and the embankment is a gorgeous place to meander along – and maybe grab an ice cream! Check out www.lovebedford.co.uk for full details.
Shuttleworth House & Park, Old Warden
Shuttleworth House, on the site of Warden Abbey – the earliest Cistertian monastery in Bedfordshire – is a Victorian country house made in Jacobean style in 1872 and set in 500 acres of parkland. Now a college it is also a venue for conferences and weddings, plus a variety of country events. The Park also houses the Shuttleworth Air Collection, the Jubilee Play Centre for the children, a Bird of Prey centre and the famous Swiss Garden, a late Regency garden created in 1820.
Woburn Abbey & Park
Set in a beautiful 3,000 acre deer park, with 10 species of deer roaming free, Woburn Abbey has been the home of the Russell family for nearly 400 years. Today it is occupied by the 15th Duke of Bedford and his family. The Park offers a fantastic range of activities which can be found in better detail through the links below.