Ancient Monuments

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Icehouse at Clock House, Green Street Green

A Scheduled Monument in Darenth, Kent

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Latitude: 51.412 / 51°24'43"N

Longitude: 0.2781 / 0°16'41"E

OS Eastings: 558523.29

OS Northings: 170569.5125

OS Grid: TQ585705

Mapcode National: GBR X7.W7W

Mapcode Global: VHHP1.RRWY

Entry Name: Icehouse at Clock House, Green Street Green

Scheduled Date: 12 July 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016496

English Heritage Legacy ID: 31413

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Darenth

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Darenth St Margaret

Church of England Diocese: Rochester


The monument includes an early 19th century icehouse situated within the
grounds of Clock House in the hamlet of Green Street Green, around 5km south
east of Dartford. The icehouse was constructed in 1812 for the then owner of
Clock House, Thomas Edmeades.

The almost entirely subterranean, red brick structure was adapted from two
pre-existing deneholes which were enlarged to accommodate the circular ice
chamber and its associated cold storage room. The icehouse is entered through
an above ground, north west facing wooden door with a classical, ashlar-faced,
pedimented surround. On the fascia above the door are the initials TE and the
date 1812. A steep flight of stairs leads down to a high-level opening in the
ice chamber, allowing access to the ice when the chamber was full. An `L'-
shaped, barrel vaulted passageway runs north westwards to the circular cold
storage room, used for preserving meat, game and other perishable foods. The
passage vaulting is pierced by a ventilation shaft which rises to the ground
surface. A small recess in the wall beside the doorway into the cold storage
room was designed to hold a lamp. The brick paved, dome ceilinged, circular
cold storage room has a diameter of around 3m and is 3.9m high. The walls
retain some of their original lime-washed, rendered finish. A band of 38 slots
cut radially into the walls held the supports for a wooden shelf, since
removed, and high on the wall are iron nail hooks used for suspending game.
Further ventilation is provided by an air shaft rising from the centre of the
ceiling. A second staircase leads from the passageway down to the floor of the
ice chamber. This has a diameter of around 4.25m and is 5.9m high, with an ice
loading shaft rising to the ground surface from the centre of the domed
ceiling. The partly brick paved chamber floor has a central unpaved area
through which the melting ice could drain into the natural Thanet Sand
subsoil. Two bands of plain moulding project from the walls, the upper stages
of which are rendered. Two large corbels at the level of the lower moulding
supported a removeable wooden beam, which has not survived. The position of a
now removed, mid-height wooden gallery is indicated by a number of recessed
settings in the wall. These features aided access to the ice as it was being
loaded and as it melted. Also at around mid-height in the eastern side of the
wall is the square headed entrance to an approximately 4.6m long, westward
running store room, the brick vaulting of which has partly collapsed. This is
interpreted as storage for the wooden access beam. Above ground, the
ventilation and loading shafts are capped by iron grilles set in square brick
heads which stand around 0.6m high.

Local oral tradition mistakenly identified the icehouse as a prison cell or
dungeon, and the now partly collapsed passage as a secret tunnel to Clock

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Icehouses are subterranean structures designed specifically to store ice,
usually removed in winter from ponds and used in the summer for preserving
food and cooling drinks. Thousands of icehouses have been built in England
since the early 17th century. These were initially built only by the upper
level of society, but by the end of the 18th century they were commonplace.
They continued to be built throughout the 19th century, when huge examples
were established by the fishing industry, as well as for use in towns.
Icehouses only became obsolete after the introduction of domestic
refrigerators in the early 20th century.
Of the thousands originally built, some 1500 icehouses have been positively
identified through a combination of archaeological and documentary research.
Although a relatively common class, most recorded examples with surviving
remains will be considered to be of national interest and appropriate for
consideration for either scheduling or listing. They are also generally
regarded as a significant component of local distinctiveness and character.

The icehouse at Clock House is a particularly unusual and elaborate example
of an early 19th century icehouse, illustrating the increasing popularity of
ice storage amongst the gentry and the professional and merchant classes at
this time. It survives well, retaining its original outer door and some
internal fixtures.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Caiger, J E L, 'Archaeologia Cantiana' in An Ice-house at Green St Green, Darenth, (1965), 221-226
Caiger, J E L, 'Archaeologia Cantiana' in An Ice-house at Green St Green, Darenth, (1965), 221-226

Source: Historic England

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