Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • (♪ The Bedfordshire May Carol, Dila Vardar ♪)

  • The county of Bedfordshire in the east  midlands boasts a rich and ancient history.  

  • Today, close to the town of Silsoe, lies  a stunning estate, 90 acres boasting  

  • everything from lush woodland walkways to ornate  marble fountains and a picturesque pavilion.  

  • And in the midst of it all, a grand  mansion: the Grade I listed Wrest Park.

  • What I find so wonderful about Wrest Park is this  sense of contrast and really it's the contrast  

  • between the house and the landscape gardens. When  you look at the house, this is in the style of  

  • French chateau taken from France and put here in  the middle of these fantastic landscape gardens.  

  • The house dates from about the 1830s but the  gardens themselves began to be landscaped in the  

  • mid 1600s and then they were further developed by  that most famous of landscape gardeners, Lancelot  

  • 'Capability' Brown in the mid 1700s. So for  almost 400 years this landscape has been shaped,  

  • it's been smoothed, it's been planted, it's been  designed to fulfill the needs of status, fashion  

  • and the styles of the various times and I think  for me this is where that sense of a contrast  

  • really becomes most apparent. When we stand  at the far end of the gardens and we look back  

  • towards the house and we see a house that's  very much of its time and then when we stand  

  • on the terrace looking out from the  house into these fantastic vistas  

  • we get this sense of the quintessential English  landscape garden so there's this dynamic tension  

  • which I think is remarkable and  really helps to set the place off.

  • When we look at a stunning house such as this  it's easy to think of it as a museum piece  

  • and to forget that this  was a home and on this site  

  • lives were lived for centuries  before the mansion itself was built.

  • This beautiful house was the home of one  particular family for multiple generations.

  • Wrest Park was the home to the De Grey family for  many, many centuries. In the later 17th century,  

  • Amabel Countess of Kent who  married into the family was known  

  • as the Good Countess because of the work that she  did to support the local poor. Just one example  

  • is the fact that she bought the local pub when the  existing owner was struggling and then leased it  

  • back to them, keen perhaps to ensure that there  were still facilities in the local community.  

  • This philanthropy continued and we've got evidence  of it going right into the 19th century. The  

  • family were known for giving prizes and even  giving clothing to pupils at the local school.  

  • But in 1914, Wrest Park became a hospital caring  for wounded and convalescent soldiers from the  

  • First World War and it was a hospital that was  paid for by the family. It lasted as a hospital  

  • until 1916 when unfortunately a fire damaged  the house and really began a decline in the  

  • fortune of the house. But it ends a story that is  really characterised by this idea of good works  

  • and charity on the part of the family to  the people who lived in the local area.

  • This grand estate calls for a local song withgrand history. Connecting with the tradition of  

  • alms-giving from the master and mistresses of  well-to-do houses to local springtime carolers,  

  • the Bedforeshire May Song is a local  variant of the timeless Mayday carol  

  • which was once sung right across the UK. Here in  the voice of singer Dila Vardar, these days we  

  • associate singing carols with Christmas but in  the past there were numerous times of the year  

  • when villagers would go door to door asking  for charity. May songs such as thing one were  

  • accompanied by a ritual in which the singers  known as mayers would leave ornate branches of  

  • hawthorn at the doors of houses they visited as  they exchanged songs for drinks, food donations  

  • and even some silver coins. This song speaks of  the natural cycles of death and regeneration,  

  • so very in keeping with Wrest Park's  history as the site of a military hospital.

(♪ The Bedfordshire May Carol, Dila Vardar ♪)

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B2 local landscape park carol family hospital

The Bedfordshire May Carol | Songs of England #8 | Wrest Park, Bedfordshire

  • 7 0
    Summer posted on 2021/06/21
Video vocabulary