Land west of London Road, St Ippolyts
The Site Today
The land west of London Road is an area of agricultural land totalling approximately 10 acres (4 hectares), bound to the north by properties on Waterdell Lane, to the south by a tall hedgerow along Half Handkerchief Lane, to the east by a belt of trees and shrubs along London Road (the B656), and to the west by adjacent fields.
The current site entrance is on Half Handkerchief Lane just off the junction with London Road, opposite the Grade II listed St Ibbs Lodge.
The current site entrance (right) off Half Handkerchief Lane, opposite St Ibbs Lodge
The current site entrance off Half Handkerchief Lane, opposite St Ibbs Lodge
There are a couple of distinctive features in and around the site that need to be taken into account. In the easternmost corner of the site, adjacent to the Half Handkerchief Lane / London Road junction, is a Grade II listed ‘Ice House’. This underground building, built in the 19th century, was used to store ice for the residents of St Ibbs Lodge. A Public Right of Way also crosses the site between the two fields, connecting Half Handkerchief Lane with Waterdell Lane at the bend.
The location of the underground Ice House, opposite St Ibbs Lodge
Entrance to the Public Right of Way from Waterdell Lane
The Ice House
A unique feature of this site is the presence of a Grade II listed Ice House in its easternmost corner, adjacent to the junction of Half Handkerchief Lane and London Road. This underground structure is believed to have been built in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries, designed to store ice for the adjacent household of St. Ibbs south of Half Handkerchief Lane.
As part of our preparations the Ice House, long disused, has been cleared of years of accumulated debris in order to enable a more thorough investigation of its structure and design. This has revealed the remains of a short flight of stairs down into the Ice House, and passageways leading to two chambers where the ice was stored.
The Ice House, blocked by years of accumulated debris prior to clearance
The Ice House cleared of debris, showing passageways to two chambers
Descending the stairs, straight ahead is the larger of the two chambers, possessing a shallow domed ceiling and a depth of approximately 3.5 metres below floor level. At a right-angle to the larger chamber is a second passageway leading to a smaller chamber, with more of an arched ceiling. Given the difference in design it’s possible that the smaller chamber was a later addition, or remodelled as part of later repairs.
The passage leading to the larger chamber – the low wall at the end of the passage would once have been intact
The passage leading to the smaller, second chamber
The shallow, domed ceiling of the larger chamber
The base of the larger chamber, obscured by debris
The arched roof of the smaller chamber
The base of the smaller chamber
Both passageways have the remnants of a brick roof which probably once extended to the base of the stairs, and there may have been a single door at the bottom of the stairs or two doors, one leading to each chamber.
A plan showing the layout of the extant Ice House
Now that the Ice House has been uncovered, it will be kept visible from above ground for the benefit of the public. Entry however will not be possible for safety reasons, so rail fencing will be erected around the structure and an interpretation board put up explaining its historic use.