Icehouse 190m east of Firle Place


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019249

Date first listed: 07-Jun-2000


Ordnance survey map of Icehouse 190m east of Firle Place
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This copy shows the entry on 13-Dec-2018 at 01:21:39.


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

County: East Sussex

District: Lewes (District Authority)

Parish: Firle

National Park: SOUTH DOWNS

National Grid Reference: TQ 47533 07086


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 190m east of Firle Place is a good example of a late 19th century icehouse. It survives well, retaining some unusual details, including a sophisticated loading system.


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


The monument includes an icehouse situated within the grounds of Firle Place, on the eastern edge of West Firle village around 6km north of Seaford. Firle Place is an early 16th century manor house remodelled in the 18th century. The icehouse has been dated on cartographic evidence, and by its architectural features, to the late 19th century. The almost entirely subterranean red brick structure is built into a wooded, north facing slope, at the foot of the Sussex Downs, immediately behind the low brick wall of a ha-ha. It is entered on its northern side, through a barrel vaulted passageway, 3.5m long, with three doorways. The passage leads to a high level opening in the ice chamber, allowing access to the ice when the chamber was full. The almost square chamber, with curved corner buttresses, measures 4.2m by 4.8m and is around 5m deep from its base to the top of its barrel vaulted ceiling. A 3m long, brick loading chute opens into the vault from a trackway at the higher ground level above the icehouse. This unusual system enabled ice to be unloaded directly off the cart and into the ice chamber. The nearest source of ice was a pond, around 200m to the north west, although imported ice was also available at the end of the 19th century. A secondary, corrugated iron roof was later fitted over the top of the icehouse and its loading chute, although it has now partly collapsed.

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.


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

Legacy System number: 32269

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Beamon, S, Roaf, S, The Ice Houses of Great Britain, (1990)
Martin, R, 'Sussex Industrial History' in Ice Houses in Sussex, , Vol. 24, (1994), 15
Title: Estate Map - ESRO Add MS 3446 Source Date: 1853 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:

End of official listing