High Elms ice house 130m south of Flint Lodge


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018959

Date first listed: 03-Jul-2000


Ordnance survey map of High Elms ice house 130m south of Flint Lodge
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This copy shows the entry on 15-Dec-2018 at 21:51:11.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Greater London Authority

District: Bromley (London Borough)

National Grid Reference: TQ 44592 63460


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

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.

High Elms ice house 130m south of Flint Lodge survives particularly well. Following a national review of this class of monument in 1998, it is now known to be one of very few exceptional survivals in the Greater London area (the other main example being at Pinner Hill House, Pinner). The elaborate design illustrates the skill and craftsmanship required for this form of construction as well as the body of experience and scientific knowledge which underpinned the successful storage of ice in the mid-19th century. Although specific documentary evidence is lacking, the ice house nevertheless provides a significant insight into the management of the estate and the lifestyle of its inhabitants.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a brick built ice house with attached passageway and larder located some 15m to the north east of the stables and walled garden of the High Elms estate: the country seat of the Lubbock family, and notably Sir John Lubbock who was created Lord Avesbury in 1900. The mid-19th century mansion formerly stood on the hillside some 200m to the south east. It was demolished following a fire in 1967, and the grounds are now preserved as a nature reserve and public open space.

The ice house, a Listed Building Grade II, is of the `cup and dome' type and largely subterranean. The dome, a brick hemisphere with a small central aperture, is concealed beneath an earthen mound measuring some 8m in diameter and 2m high. The ice chamber (or cup) beneath the dome is cylindrical, 3m in diameter and 7m deep, with a central soakaway for melt water in the base. It is estimated that the chamber could hold about 1000 cubic feet (28.3 cubic metres) of ice. At the time of use this would probably have been imported from the Baltic or North America and transported from London, rather than derived from any local source. The aperture in the dome would have allowed a long ladder to be inserted into the chamber, whereas the main access to the ice house is provided by a barrel vaulted passageway which contains a flight of steps leading down from the gated entrance to the south. The passageway curves around the western side of the ice house before entering the upper part of the chamber on the north side. It is approximately 1.8m high and has rebates for two wooden doors (removed) which would have served as insulation. The passage also provides access to a small brick built chamber on the outside of the curve which is thought to have served as a food store.

The ice house is believed to date from the early 1850s (although the food store may be a later addition) and thus formed part of a range of improvements to the estate which accompanied the construction of the new mansion by the third baronet (John William Lubbock) in 1844. As one of the more prosaic elements of the estate the ice house does not appear on any known maps or records, although it is known to have been used as an apple store after refrigeration supplanted its original purpose. The chamber retains some remnants of the wooden staging constructed for this use. After a long period of abandonment the ice house was cleared and surveyed by a local conservation group in 1975 (the year of European Architectural Heritage) and it has since been opened to the public.

The modern lighting system and the notice boards and bat roosts attached to the passage walls are excluded from the scheduling, although the structures to which they are attached are included.

MAP EXTRACT 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.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 29447

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Wilson, K, A Place in the Country: High Elms, Downe, Kent, (1982)
Fairhead, W, 'Kent Archaeological Review' in An Ice Well at High Elms, Farnborough, , Vol. Vol 51, (1978)
Figure 6, Spandl, K, MPP Step 1 Report: Ice Houses, (1995)

End of official listing