Square icehouse in Weston Park


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020913

Date first listed: 15-Jul-2003


Ordnance survey map of Square icehouse in Weston Park
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Hertfordshire

District: North Hertfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Weston

National Grid Reference: TL 26198 29395


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 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.


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


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 insulation.

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 redundant.

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: 32457

Legacy System: RSM


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 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Weston

End of official listing