Wrest Park is an English Heritage property half way between Luton and Bedford. Only part of the house is open (just the ground floor) but the gardens are so lovely. The first time I visited Wrest Park to do a review I forgot to take the carrier and decided against taking Smallest Child into the house. Our second visit took place whilst covid-19 restrictions were still in place so the house was closed. I’ll just have to go back to Wrest Park again, I’ll update this review when I do!
Before you even get to the visitor centre you have to go past the cafe and, more importantly, past the really good playground area. It’s suitable for a range of ages; there’s toddler swings and a climbing frame/slide combo. There are also a couple of those rocking thingys that are perfect for walloping a small child in the face! Which she did a couple of times. For someone her size the ears of the dragon were exactly at eye height.
Wrest Park Review update July 2020 – I can’t tell you if it’s because of covid or for some other reason, but the rockers have now been removed. Currently they haven’t been replaced.
The rest of the park includes swings, a nice and long zip-wire, climbing frame and play frame. There are benches dotted around playground for the grown-ups to sit on. The kids could quite happily have spent well over and hour in here.
Wrest Park review update
Since my first visit to Wrest Park covid-19 has hit and so some of the facilities I mention in my original review may be closed. The guidelines are changing constantly, so if you’re looking to visit somewhere specific then please double check their website before visiting.
The gardens at Wrest Park
The grounds themselves are fairly compact but full of things to do. It’s smaller than some of the local landscape gardens such as the one at Stowe but that’s a real plus. You don’t have to walk for ages to get anywhere interesting so it’s great for little legs.
The first time I visited Wrest Park to do a review it was Easter. There was a trail going on which took us around much of the gardens. The trail was only £1 each and at the end they got a bag of mini eggs (or jelly beans for non-dairy). Some of the questions were actually quite hard – we ended up googling the answers to make sure. Do you know the difference between a Wyvern and a Dragon? I just thought it was a chain of garden centres. It was quite a good trail though.
The gardens themselves are really beautiful. We didn’t get chance to explore everything on our first visit but there are two lakes, a large orangery (distinctly lacking in oranges but it did have some limes), a dairy (which includes some fragile sculptures), fountain, the bowling green house, woodlands and a little secret house. There’s also tons of open spaces which are perfect for letting the kids run around whilst you set up camp. There are also lots of sculptures all over the place in various states of undress (much to the amusement of the boys).
On our second visit to Wrest Park it was incredibly hot, so we decided to stick to the shade as much as possible. It was time to explore the woodland areas. Hidden away are lots more sculptures, a pet cemetery, a lake, a beautiful bridge, a Chinese house and more.
The landscaping of the gardens is also great for playing hide and seek (particularly if you’re only 18 months old and so not very tall!) We did lose a couple of the older kids when they were playing in the woods though which wasn’t much fun. Despite being a small copse, the bit the kids were playing in was actually quite dense in places. There are a couple of fantastic trees for climbing and scrambling around in/under and these were very popular with lots of kids.
There are lots of animals, mainly birds, wondering around the gardens. Generally it’s just a really good space for families to spend the day, particularly if the sun is shining. Lots of people take games to play on the lawn, fly a kite etc. We sat down near one of the trees and the kids spent ages just playing around a tree, building “nests” and digging in the dirt. They loved it.
We also had a look around the Dairy Sculpture gallery. It’s got some of the more fragile sculptures, including some that are supposed to represent the four seasons. TBH it wasn’t remotely interesting for either me or the kids.
There was a lot of the gardens that we weren’t able to explore this time because we had only a limited amount of time and the smallest kids wanted to walk. Slowly. That includes the wider woodland, pavilion, Chinese temple and bridge. N.B. there is lots of open water on the site so you’ll need to keep an eye on small children around those areas.
£36.20 for a family ticket. Entry is FREE for English Heritage or CSSC members. If you’re interested in finding out more about membership or Wrest Park click here – affiliate link. Prices for Wrest Park were updated for the July 2020 review.
parking / how to get there
Parking – plenty on-site, free.
Address – Silsoe, Bedfordshire MK45 4HR
Cafe on-site. Picnics very welcome and it’s a lovely spot for a picnic
Our Wrest Park review
We really enjoyed our visit to Wrest Park and I’m glad we got chance to go back and update the review after seeing more of the estate. It’s not a huge estate, but that means you can explore it all easily without tiring out little legs.
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