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Icehouse 720m south east of Bath House Farm

A Scheduled Monument in High Melton, Doncaster

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.5072 / 53°30'26"N

Longitude: -1.2354 / 1°14'7"W

OS Eastings: 450808.311112

OS Northings: 401444.301334

OS Grid: SE508014

Mapcode National: GBR MWTW.BG

Mapcode Global: WHDD7.030M

Entry Name: Icehouse 720m south east of Bath House Farm

Scheduled Date: 24 July 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020715

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29995

County: Doncaster

Civil Parish: High Melton

Built-Up Area: High Melton

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): South Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Barnburgh with Melton-on-the-Hill

Church of England Diocese: Sheffield

Details

The monument includes the earthwork, standing and buried remains of an
icehouse, two ponds and associated drainage system. The icehouse was built
in the grounds of High Melton Hall, an 18th century hall with 100 acres
(40ha) of landscaped parkland. The monument is situated on a steep south
west facing slope about 350m south of the Hall and approximately 60m above
sea level.
The icehouse is constructed of brick and stone and is of a `cup and dome'
design. On the ground surface it is evident as an earthen mound, measuring
approximately 20m by 15m, with stone facing visible on the south eastern
side. The entrance to the icehouse is positioned on the south side and
enters the building at the spring line of the domed chamber. The entrance
consists of a vaulted tunnel and leads to the ice chamber. Internally
there is evidence of a stone door jamb approximately half way down the
length of the tunnel entrance. This would have supported the internal door
with the external door being flush with the front of the tunnel. The two
doors were designed to prevent any warm air currents from entering the
icehouse. Straw was often placed in the passage between the doors to
further block the movement of warm air.
The ice chamber has vertical, or near vertical, sides and is sunk beneath
ground level. Although not exclusive to the 18th century, vertical sided
cup and dome ice chambers are characteristic of this period of
construction. The icehouse is built mainly of brick although externally
there is evidence of a stone facing. This would have reinforced the
structure and would also have offered insulation, as would the earthen
mound.
The icehouse is hidden in the estate landscape and is now camouflaged by
trees. It was thought that trees had the ability to keep the ground cool
and aid evaporation therefore cooling the air above the icehouse. It was
also believed that trees would dry the soil to a great depth. It is
however, difficult to establish whether the trees were deliberately
planted at the time the icehouse was built.
To the east of the icehouse and terraced into the natural slope is a
square enclosure. This is defined by earthen banks which survive to a
height of approximately 1m. The enclosure measures approximately 14m by
14m and is interpreted as an ice pond. The banks or dams would control the
level of the water and help to keep it still to facilitate freezing. The
proximity to the icehouse and the fact that it has been terraced into the
slope indicate that the pond was built to service the icehouse.
Also associated with the icehouse is a second pond which is situated
approximately 80m down slope to the south west. This is circular in shape
with a brick built dam evident around approximately two thirds of its
circumference predominantly on its northern side. The dam survives to a
height of about 0.5m and, although very silted, continues to retain water.
The pond drains into the River Dearne which lies approximately 800m to the
south west. The pond is roughly 20m in diameter and is terraced into the
natural slope. Although not physically linked, the pond appears to be
associated with the icehouse through an earthen bank which runs from close
to the south east corner of the square pond to within a few meters of the
circular pond. The bank survives to a height of about 0.5m and is
interpreted as a drainage or water management feature.
It is possible that the ponds are contemporary and both functioned in the
running of the icehouse. Equally they could offer a chronological sequence
in the development and use of the icehouse with one pond replacing the
other for the production of ice.
The modern bricked entrance to the icehouse is excluded from the
scheduling, although the ground beneath it is included.


MAP EXTRACT
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, ponds and water management system in the grounds of High
Melton Hall are particularly well-preserved and will retain important
archaeological information about the construction and use of the icehouse.
The association and survival of two ponds is rare. If the ponds are
contemporary then the site suggests a novel method in working the icehouse
was employed. If one pond replaced the other as the provider of ice then
the monument offers a rare chronological sequence in the development and
use of the icehouse. The silt within the ponds will also retain important
environmental information about the landscape in which the icehouse was
built and used.

Source: Historic England

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