Ancient Monuments

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Icehouse in Danbury Country Park, 130m south of Home Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Danbury, Essex

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Latitude: 51.7125 / 51°42'44"N

Longitude: 0.5541 / 0°33'14"E

OS Eastings: 576545.987222

OS Northings: 204611.599663

OS Grid: TL765046

Mapcode National: GBR PKV.NWG

Mapcode Global: VHJK9.K782

Entry Name: Icehouse in Danbury Country Park, 130m south of Home Farm

Scheduled Date: 3 July 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019018

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32422

County: Essex

Civil Parish: Danbury

Traditional County: Essex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Essex

Church of England Parish: Sandon St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Chelmsford


The monument includes an icehouse located within Danbury Country Park in an
area that once formed part of the grounds of Danbury Palace. The icehouse is
situated some 300m south of Danbury Palace, positioned on the sloping bank of
a stream, some 50m from the most south westerly of a row of three ornamental

On morphological grounds and on the appearance of its brickwork, the icehouse
dates to the late 18th century: the walls of the ice chamber are vertical as
opposed to tapered inwards (the tapered examples are thought to be 19th
century attempts to improve drainage), and the brickwork is of red bricks of
English bond. The icehouse appears on a map forming part of a sale catalogue
of 1829, and it therefore predates the red brick mansion that is currently
Danbury Palace which was built in 1832. It is thought that the icehouse
belonged to the last phases of the Palace's predecessor, Mildmay mansion which
stood on the site from 1589 onwards.

The icehouse has a circular ice chamber, with vertical walls, some 2.2m in
diameter and some 6.75m from its floor to the centre of its vaulted ceiling.
The chamber is dug down into the ground to a depth of some 5.25m and built up
above the ground surface to a height of some 1.5m; an earthen mound covers the
chamber. The chamber is accessed via an entrance passageway which measures
some 2.5m long by 1.8m high by 0.95m wide. It too has a vaulted ceiling and
was let into the vaulted dome of the icehouse on its south west side.

The icehouse was fully recorded in September-October 1998: the ice chamber was
first cleared out revealing that drainage was through natural percolation
through gravel rather than via a sump. Bottles and other artefacts from the
ice chamber indicated that it fell into disuse in the early years of the 20th

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.

The icehouse in Danbury Country Park, 130m south of Home Farm is almost
intact, in good condition and has been sympathetically restored. Following a
national review of this class of monument in 1998, it is thought to be one of
very few exceptional survivals in Essex. The ice chamber and dome is
particularly well-preserved. Although specific documentary evidence is
lacking, the icehouse nevertheless provides a significant insight into the
management of the estate and the lifestyle of its inhabitants.

Source: Historic England


Building recording; Rep. No.528, Peachey, M, Danbury Country Park Icehouse, Danbury, Essex, (1998)
D/DOp T27, Sale Catalogue Danbury Palace, (1829)
District of Chelmsford, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, (1975)
Part 15 Essex, English Heritage, Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest,
Title: Ordnance Survey 3rd Edition
Source Date: 1922
Tyler, S, MPP Film, (1998)

Source: Historic England

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