Wrest Park and Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Couple of stops from the journey north from Surrey to York, along the mostly uninteresting M1 motorway.

Home to one of the most significant gardens in Britain, Wrest Park is a substantial English Heritage site close to Luton. The house was used as a hospital in WW1, and suffered a fire in 1917 so there isn’t much left inside but the gardens alone make it worth a visit.

They’re very French in style as originally laid out in the early 1700s, and later modified to a more ‘natural’ design by the prolific garden designer Lancelot “Capability” Brown. Not really to my taste but their intent to wow visitors is clear, with epic sight lines.

Around the gardens are numerous eclectic buildings including a bowling green and this sadly empty Orangery.

The Yorkshire Sculpture Park is somewhere I’ve wanted to visited for years, as a fan of sculpture parks generally and based on the amount of media coverage it gets. Sadly it was a disappointment…

The sculpture park covers 500 acres, but is only home to around 80 sculptures, meaning a lot of walking through sheep, cow and goose dropping filled fields, and along stinging nettle lined riverside paths.

The sculptures that are there were mostly underwhelming to me, though here are some of the more interesting ones.

The huge if pretty hideous The Virgin Mother by Damien Hirst was one of the more memorable.

The park is home to a large number of Henry Moore bronze sculptures which are very good.

My clear favourite though was Untitled by Roger Hiorns, two decommissioned Boeing EC-135c aircraft engines.

There is also a not very subterranean underground gallery which had a few things of interest, though the building was the main attraction for me.

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