Icehouse in Danbury Country Park, 130m south of Home Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019018

Date first listed: 03-Jul-2000


Ordnance survey map of Icehouse in Danbury Country Park, 130m south of Home Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Essex

District: Chelmsford (District Authority)

Parish: Danbury

National Grid Reference: TL 76546 04612


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.

The icehouse in Danbury Country Park, 130m south of Home Farm is almost intact, in good condition and has been sympathetically restored. Following a national review of this class of monument in 1998, it is thought to be one of very few exceptional survivals in Essex. The ice chamber and dome is particularly well-preserved. Although specific documentary evidence is lacking, the icehouse 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 an icehouse located within Danbury Country Park in an area that once formed part of the grounds of Danbury Palace. The icehouse is situated some 300m south of Danbury Palace, positioned on the sloping bank of a stream, some 50m from the most south westerly of a row of three ornamental lakes.

On morphological grounds and on the appearance of its brickwork, the icehouse dates to the late 18th century: the walls of the ice chamber are vertical as opposed to tapered inwards (the tapered examples are thought to be 19th century attempts to improve drainage), and the brickwork is of red bricks of English bond. The icehouse appears on a map forming part of a sale catalogue of 1829, and it therefore predates the red brick mansion that is currently Danbury Palace which was built in 1832. It is thought that the icehouse belonged to the last phases of the Palace's predecessor, Mildmay mansion which stood on the site from 1589 onwards.

The icehouse has a circular ice chamber, with vertical walls, some 2.2m in diameter and some 6.75m from its floor to the centre of its vaulted ceiling. The chamber is dug down into the ground to a depth of some 5.25m and built up above the ground surface to a height of some 1.5m; an earthen mound covers the chamber. The chamber is accessed via an entrance passageway which measures some 2.5m long by 1.8m high by 0.95m wide. It too has a vaulted ceiling and was let into the vaulted dome of the icehouse on its south west side.

The icehouse was fully recorded in September-October 1998: the ice chamber was first cleared out revealing that drainage was through natural percolation through gravel rather than via a sump. Bottles and other artefacts from the ice chamber indicated that it fell into disuse in the early years of the 20th century.

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: 32422

Legacy System: RSM


Building recording; Rep. No.528, Peachey, M, Danbury Country Park Icehouse, Danbury, Essex, (1998)
D/DOp T27, Sale Catalogue Danbury Palace, (1829)
District of Chelmsford, List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, (1975)
Part 15 Essex, English Heritage, Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest,
Title: Ordnance Survey 3rd Edition Source Date: 1922 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: ERO
Tyler, S, MPP Film, (1998)

End of official listing