Ancient Monuments

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Icehouse 190m east of Firle Place

A Scheduled Monument in Firle, East Sussex

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Latitude: 50.8445 / 50°50'40"N

Longitude: 0.0942 / 0°5'39"E

OS Eastings: 547533.467819

OS Northings: 107086.17498

OS Grid: TQ475070

Mapcode National: GBR LRQ.SSC

Mapcode Global: FRA C62V.Y8H

Entry Name: Icehouse 190m east of Firle Place

Scheduled Date: 7 June 2000

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1019249

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32269

County: East Sussex

Civil Parish: Firle

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Sussex

Church of England Parish: West Firle St Peter

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes an icehouse situated within the grounds of Firle Place,
on the eastern edge of West Firle village around 6km north of Seaford. Firle
Place is an early 16th century manor house remodelled in the 18th century. The
icehouse has been dated on cartographic evidence, and by its architectural
features, to the late 19th century.
The almost entirely subterranean red brick structure is built into a wooded,
north facing slope, at the foot of the Sussex Downs, immediately behind the
low brick wall of a ha-ha. It is entered on its northern side, through a
barrel vaulted passageway, 3.5m long, with three doorways. The passage leads
to a high level opening in the ice chamber, allowing access to the ice when
the chamber was full. The almost square chamber, with curved corner
buttresses, measures 4.2m by 4.8m and is around 5m deep from its base to the
top of its barrel vaulted ceiling. A 3m long, brick loading chute opens into
the vault from a trackway at the higher ground level above the icehouse.
This unusual system enabled ice to be unloaded directly off the cart and into
the ice chamber. The nearest source of ice was a pond, around 200m to the
north west, although imported ice was also available at the end of the 19th
century. A secondary, corrugated iron roof was later fitted over the top of
the icehouse and its loading chute, although it has now partly collapsed.

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 190m east of Firle Place is a good example of a late 19th century
icehouse. It survives well, retaining some unusual details, including a
sophisticated loading system.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beamon, S, Roaf, S, The Ice Houses of Great Britain, (1990)
Martin, R, 'Sussex Industrial History' in Ice Houses in Sussex, , Vol. 24, (1994), 15
Title: Estate Map - ESRO Add MS 3446
Source Date: 1853

Source: Historic England

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