Ancient Monuments

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Square icehouse in Weston Park

A Scheduled Monument in Weston, Hertfordshire

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Latitude: 51.9487 / 51°56'55"N

Longitude: -0.1652 / 0°9'54"W

OS Eastings: 526198.194109

OS Northings: 229394.518697

OS Grid: TL261293

Mapcode National: GBR J7C.T7T

Mapcode Global: VHGNV.380Y

Entry Name: Square icehouse in Weston Park

Scheduled Date: 15 July 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020913

English Heritage Legacy ID: 32457

County: Hertfordshire

Civil Parish: Weston

Traditional County: Hertfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire

Church of England Parish: Weston

Church of England Diocese: St.Albans


The monument includes a 19th century icehouse situated in the grounds of
Weston Park, close to the stable block and 120m north east of Weston Park
House, adjacent to a pond from which ice was collected. The country house
at Weston Park was constructed in 1835 and substantially added to in the
late 19th century.

The square icehouse is brick-built with some modern concrete rendering,
measuring approximately 3.5 sq m and standing to a height of about 3m. The
floor is set 0.4m below ground, level with an external low-walled melt-water
water drainage/ice collection annexe on its north western side. The cavity
walls, 0.4m thick, contain ceramic pipes which would have served to insulate
the structure. There is no entrance tunnel, but the doorway (located in the
north western wall giving access to the structure via the annexe) would
originally have contained two thick wooden doors to aid insulation. The
low-walled annexe (adding another 2m on to the length of the structure) has a
tiled floor and facilitated the drawing in of ice blocks lifted directly from
the pond and the return drainage of melt-water. The icehouse has lost its
roof, although this would originally have been thatched, again to improve

The square icehouse is one of two at Weston Park; the other is a domed
structure which forms the subject of a separate scheduling. It would
probably have continued in use until the early years of the 20th century
when the introduction of the domestic refrigerator made such buildings

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 Weston Park is a rare survival of the square-chambered
form with cavity walls incorporating ceramic piping. Most square icehouses
were built in the 19th century when there was a move away from structures
with deep subterranean chambers to less expensive varieties. These surface
structures generally have not survived as well as the subterranean types
and are therefore comparatively rare. Those few which do survive illustrate
a more economical trend in icehouse construction, typical of the mid-late
19th century, and represent a time when it was not only the very largest
mansion houses which could aspire to the benefits of a constant supply of
ice for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The Weston Park example is a
good example of this type, once common but now underepresented in the
archaeological record. The innovative use of ceramic pipes within the
cavity walls to improve insulation adds to its importance, this being the
only known surviving example of this technique in the country.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Beamon, S, Roaf, S, The Ice Houses of Great Britain, (1990)
Buxbaum, T, Icehouses, (1992)
English Heritage MPP Step 1 Report, Oxford Archaeological Unit, Ice-houses, (1995)
Oxford Archaeological Unit, MPP Ice House Assessment, Step 3 Report Site Evaluation, (1995)
Title: Tithe Award and Map
Source Date: 1663

Source: Historic England

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