Yesterday, Tuesday, we thought we'd make the most of the weather as well as get the benefit of our newly-acquired English Heritage membership and visit Wrest Park. The weather has been playing tricks over the last few days, and the weather forecast has said it has something to do with Hurricane Bertha on the west of the Atlantic and we've had the tail-end of this hurricane with high winds and torrential rain. We have a slight problem with the car; the windscreen wipers don't work. Those which clear the rear window have a tendency to come on unexpectedly when we're driving along so it must be a fault with the fuses or something and needs work doing to it to get it corrected, so we're none too keen to go out when it's raining. But we've been cooped up indoors for the past few weeks and the car is working again so it seemed a good idea to go out. We left around 8.30 which would give us more than enough time to drive across to Silsoe, where Wrest Park is. It's on the A6 around half way between Bedford and Luton and we've been there before when we previously had English Heritage membership. The grounds didn't open until 10 a.m. so as we got to Silsoe with around 45 minutes to spare we decided to drive on to Barton-Le-Clay and visit the watermill there which has shops and a garden centre in it. Quite nice to wander around and it has an antiques centre and a shop which appealed to Carol which sells a wide selection of teddy bears one of which she has got her eye on as a Christmas present.
We drove back to Silsoe and in to the carpark at Wrest Park. There's been quite a few changes since we last visited, the carpark being now in what looks as if it was probably a walled garden. You drive in through an archway. There's now a visitor centre, restaurant and gift shop and you walk in from the side and not through the front of the mansion which was the old entrance. They have recently had a £20 million Heritage Lottery grant to restore the garden and mansion back to it's glory days. There is also a children's play area which I don't remember from our earlier visit. We walked the length of the grounds towards the Archer Pavilion and along one of the lakes. It must be at least a mile from the mansion. We turned back and got to the restaurant in good time as it began to rain and the place was inundated with other visitors and scores of children. We bought the obligatory handbook (we now have a growing collection from the other National Trust and English Heritage properties we have visited.) and decided it would be a good idea to leave as the rain came on heavily. Fortunately it cleared up as we headed back towards Milton Keynes and the fact that the windscreen wipers were not working wasn't a problem.
View towards the Archer Pavilion from the Mansion at Wrest Park
The Archer Pavilion at Wrest Park
The Mansion at Wrest Park from across the Long Pond