Ancient Monuments

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High Elms ice house 130m south of Flint Lodge

A Scheduled Monument in Darwin, Bromley

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Latitude: 51.3518 / 51°21'6"N

Longitude: 0.075 / 0°4'30"E

OS Eastings: 544591.6595

OS Northings: 163460.486444

OS Grid: TQ445634

Mapcode National: GBR NT.RKS

Mapcode Global: VHHPB.8901

Entry Name: High Elms ice house 130m south of Flint Lodge

Scheduled Date: 3 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018959

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29447

County: Bromley

Electoral Ward/Division: Darwin

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Downe St Mary Magdalene

Church of England Diocese: Rochester


The monument includes a brick built ice house with attached passageway and
larder located some 15m to the north east of the stables and walled garden of
the High Elms estate: the country seat of the Lubbock family, and notably Sir
John Lubbock who was created Lord Avesbury in 1900. The mid-19th century
mansion formerly stood on the hillside some 200m to the south east. It was
demolished following a fire in 1967, and the grounds are now preserved as a
nature reserve and public open space.

The ice house, a Listed Building Grade II, is of the `cup and dome' type
and largely subterranean. The dome, a brick hemisphere with a small central
aperture, is concealed beneath an earthen mound measuring some 8m in diameter
and 2m high. The ice chamber (or cup) beneath the dome is cylindrical, 3m in
diameter and 7m deep, with a central soakaway for melt water in the base. It
is estimated that the chamber could hold about 1000 cubic feet (28.3 cubic
metres) of ice. At the time of use this would probably have been imported from
the Baltic or North America and transported from London, rather than derived
from any local source. The aperture in the dome would have allowed a long
ladder to be inserted into the chamber, whereas the main access to the ice
house is provided by a barrel vaulted passageway which contains a flight of
steps leading down from the gated entrance to the south. The passageway
curves around the western side of the ice house before entering the upper part
of the chamber on the north side. It is approximately 1.8m high and has
rebates for two wooden doors (removed) which would have served as insulation.
The passage also provides access to a small brick built chamber on the outside
of the curve which is thought to have served as a food store.

The ice house is believed to date from the early 1850s (although the food
store may be a later addition) and thus formed part of a range of improvements
to the estate which accompanied the construction of the new mansion by the
third baronet (John William Lubbock) in 1844. As one of the more prosaic
elements of the estate the ice house does not appear on any known maps or
records, although it is known to have been used as an apple store after
refrigeration supplanted its original purpose. The chamber retains some
remnants of the wooden staging constructed for this use. After a long period
of abandonment the ice house was cleared and surveyed by a local conservation
group in 1975 (the year of European Architectural Heritage) and it has since
been opened to the public.

The modern lighting system and the notice boards and bat roosts attached to
the passage walls are excluded from the scheduling, although the structures to
which they are attached are included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 1 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.

High Elms ice house 130m south of Flint Lodge survives particularly well.
Following a national review of this class of monument in 1998, it is now known
to be one of very few exceptional survivals in the Greater London area (the
other main example being at Pinner Hill House, Pinner). The elaborate design
illustrates the skill and craftsmanship required for this form of construction
as well as the body of experience and scientific knowledge which underpinned
the successful storage of ice in the mid-19th century. Although specific
documentary evidence is lacking, the ice house nevertheless provides a
significant insight into the management of the estate and the lifestyle of its

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Wilson, K, A Place in the Country: High Elms, Downe, Kent, (1982)
Fairhead, W, 'Kent Archaeological Review' in An Ice Well at High Elms, Farnborough, , Vol. Vol 51, (1978)
Figure 6, Spandl, K, MPP Step 1 Report: Ice Houses, (1995)

Source: Historic England

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