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A subterranean commercial ice-well (City of Westminster), Park Crescent West, W1

A Scheduled Monument in Marylebone High Street, Westminster

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Latitude: 51.5223 / 51°31'20"N

Longitude: -0.147 / 0°8'49"W

OS Eastings: 528651.314532

OS Northings: 182003.28438

OS Grid: TQ286820

Mapcode National: GBR C8.5G

Mapcode Global: VHGQS.DZMW

Entry Name: A subterranean commercial ice-well (City of Westminster), Park Crescent West, W1

Scheduled Date: 28 October 2015

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1427239

County: Westminster

Electoral Ward/Division: Marylebone High Street

Built-Up Area: City of Westminster

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Marylebone

Church of England Diocese: London


The site of Park Crescent West Ice-well, a subterranean commercial ice-well, built in 1780 by Samuel Dash. Used by ice-merchant and early pioneer of ice importation William Leftwich from the 1820s.

Source: Historic England


A subterranean commercial ice-well, built in 1780 by Samuel Dash. Used by ice-merchant and early pioneer of ice importation William Leftwich from the 1820s.

The monument includes the buried remains of a largely intact ice-well, located at the site of 16,18-25 and 26 Park Crescent and 77-81 Portland Place in the City of Westminster. The centre of the ice-well is located beneath the south of the site at approximately NGR 528649 182004. The geology underlying the site comprises Thames River Terrace Gravels of the Lynch Hill Terrace, overlying London Clay. Ground level is recorded at 28.0m OD along Park Crescent and 26.97m OD along the southern edge of the site. The maximum height of the ice well was exposed at 26.62m OD and it was partially-excavated to a depth in the evaluation of 24.14m OD. Internally, it is believed to have a full depth of 2.8m. Externally, the structure measures approximately 13m east-west and 12m north-south with a construction cut of at least 2.5m wide around the structure and a larger entrance passage-way to its east with a connected additional vault.

The crown of the ice-well has a stone-lined opening measuring 0.65m x 0.65m and 0.29m deep. This served as a ventilation hole and/or means to lower items inside. The ice-well chamber comprises a red brick lining laid in English Bond extending downwards and outwards from the crown, forming a circular body, oval in cross-section. The upper 1m of brickwork is sealed with a fine concrete or cement-type render, identifying the part of the structure which may have been visible above ground in its original setting. Where the chamber was exposed, it was sealed and capped by an additional layer of re-deposited London Clay, added for protection after it was uncovered, during development in the 1960s. This clay was partially excavated during the archaeological work and the structure re-covered (modern overlying deposits are not included in the scheduling). The original construction cut around the ice-well is backfilled with clean re-deposited London Clay (a sample of the cut and backfill is included in the scheduling).

The upper part of the entranceway is 1.3m wide. As with the external chamber superstructure, the side of the entranceway is defined by a brick wall, part rendered to the same depth. The south side of the entranceway, its east limit, and part of the roof, are obscured by later walls associated with C19 buildings. The roof is also obscured by the remains of a concrete slab and pillar base associated with the 1960s site development. The original roof is built with Yorkstone slabs (where visible). Two holes have been cut through the roof allowing a limited view of the interior. The west hole has been re-sealed with a stone paving slab. Remains of a timber door frame are present, located beneath the western hole. At the east limit of the entrance passage-way, a substantial void extends northward, possibly a side-room. This was confirmed as an additional vault, off the passage-way - possibly another chamber for storing perishable goods such as meat - during a later phase of archaeological work.

The ice-well has been backfilled with rubble, with a considerable void remaining at the top of the chamber and to a lesser degree in the entranceway. Internal access was not possible, however photographs taken by the archaeologists indicate that the brickwork is intact (English Bond), lining the southern edge of the chamber. The brickwork indicates a construction date of the late C18.

A brick wall is present surmounting the ice-well roof which extends towards the southern boundary of the site. Recent archaeological investigation has confirmed this is adjoined to the top of the structure at 26.52m OD and as it has been rendered, similar to the dome of the ice well, is thought to be contemporary with its later use (MoLA, September 2015, Figure 3 - context no 16).

The site of the monument comprises an elliptical area measuring approximately 14m east-west by 12m north-south. This is defined to protect the subterranean structure as a whole including its associated features to the south and the passage-way and chamber to the east. The backfilled clay construction cut to the south and east is included (as a sample of the cut) within the buffer of 2m considered to be essential for the support and preservation of the monument.

All overlying modern made ground deposits, concrete, tarmac and services, including a large sewer to the north, are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath them, associated with the ice-well and any earlier features, is included. The Jubilee Line Tunnel, and its exclusion zone, which appears to be located underneath the eastern area of the ice-well, at depth, is also excluded. Any proposed new fencing, signage and street furniture associated with the proposed (2015) mews houses, as agreed by the local planning authority, will also be excluded.

Later C19 brick walls have been built on top of the structure, some utilising it as a foundation. These later walls and the modern deposits above are excluded from the scheduling.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The site of the Park Crescent West ice-well, a subterranean ice-well of 1780 in commercial use from the early C19, is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Period: a late C18 ice-well, and as an early example of its type which was adapted for extensive commercial use in the C19;

* Rarity: as a rare example of a large, well-preserved urban ice-well;

* Historic importance: the ice-well was used commercially by innovative ice-merchant and confectioner William Leftwich for storing and supplying Norwegian imported ice, prior to its widespread use for later refrigeration;

* Survival: the ice-well survives in good condition, with an intact brickwork interior and retains its circular plan and principal features including a ventilation hole or opening, a red brick lined chamber, an entrance-passage, an ante-chamber and evidence of internal chambers;

* Documentation: the ice-well is well documented, having been subject to a recent programme of archaeological assessment and investigation, and is included in historic documentary accounts, news articles and plans;

* Potential: partially exposed through archaeological investigation in 2015, there is a high potential for further buried structural remains to be present including more of the passage-way, its internal chambers, wooden door-frames, soak-aways and floors, indicative of ice-melt management. There is also potential for associated artefactual and ecofactual remains.

Source: Historic England


16-26 Park Crescent & 77-81 Portland Place, Regent's Park, London: Historic Buildings Record (Archaeology South East, August 2014)
16-26 Park Crescent and 77-81 Portland Place: Historic Buildings Report (Donald Insall Associates, March 2014)
16-26 Park Crescent West, 77-81 Portland Place, London W1: Historic Environment Assessment (MoLA, March 2014)
English Heritage Designation Listing Selection Guide, Garden and Park Structures, April 2011, EH.
English Heritage Designation Scheduling Selection Guide, Industrial Sites, March 2013, EH.
Park Crescent West, London, W1, City of Westminster: Pre-determination evaluation report (MoLA, March 2015)
Park Crescent West, London, W1, City of Westminster: Watching Brief interim report (MoLA, September 2015)
Park Crescent West. Planning Statement (DP9, March 2015)
Saunders, A, Regent's Park, A Study of the Development of the Area from 1086 to the Present Day, (1969) David &Charles:Newton Abbot

Source: Historic England

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