Ice House by Watchbury Farm, Barford

Description of this historic site

An icehouse dating to the Imperial period. Its unusual construction suggests that it may originally have been built for a different purpose, perhaps for curing and salting meat. It is situated 300m north east of the cemetery, Barford.

Notes about this historic site

1 2
The icehouse at Watchbury House is not true to type, and there may be some doubt as to its original purpose. It is oblong in plan, measuring approximately 6.2 by 4.7m and 1.4m high to the springing, and 2m high to the crown of the brick vaulted ceiling internally; the internal walls to the height of the springing of the vault (1.4m) are built in Warwick stone. The vaulting itself is constructed in fine 2 and a quarter inch bricks. The chamber is reached by a stairway of 12 brick steps and is lighted on the opposite side by a small window. The floor is paved with brick and a settle which runs part of the way around the walls may suggest that the chamber has been used at some time for salting and curing. The vaulting is covered externally by a bank of earth. There is cupboard space at the entrance to the chamber constructed of 3 inch bricks and this contains a hole for the admission of ice. The original flap doors to the entrance have disappeared. The passage from the entrance end of the chamber was built up some years ago. It is thought that the tunnel ran in a more or less direct line towards the boundary wall of the garden.
3 Watchbury House and gardens have now been divided into 3 separate properties. The icehouse is situated in the garden of Little Watchbury House. It is in good condition.
4 Ice house of Watchbury House still survives; now in grounds of Little Watchbury.
5 Beamon and Roaf report that the brick stairway is 3 ft (1m) wide. The walls of the chamber are of Warwick stone, the vaulted roof is of bricks as is the floor. The ledge which runs partly round the walls is 1 ft 9 ins (0.53m) wide. The whole structure is covered with earth and planted with shrubs, mainly yew.
Beamon and Roaf add that local memory suggests that a passage led from the chamber and ‘passed under the road’ – its destination is unknown.

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