Ickworth House, Suffolk, 24th February 2018

February 26, 2018
Written by: Rob Slusar

So it’s been a while since I went out. Life has been pretty hectic and the weather has been shit, but when the sun came out, we went out.

We decided to head in a direction we hadn’t in a while and after stopping for brunch, we found our way to Ickworth House.


Ickworth is a large house set amongst a sprawling Suffolk estate of walks and gardens.

Ickworth’s history started as far back as the 1250’s when the land and a half timbered house was granted to Thomas de Ickworth for use as a deer park. in 1432 the estate passed through to the Drury family, and to the Hervey family through marriage. Through the following years the family built a brick manor house near the local church. By 1701, this manor house was derelict.

John Hervey, the 1st Earl of Bristol inherited the land and the derelict manor. They set about transforming the park and gardens over the next decades in preparation for a new manor. During this period, the family lived in a converted farmhouse. Construction of the current house finally started in 1795 under the instruction of the 4th Earl of Bristol. The plan was to house a gallery of Italian art, which was confiscated in Rome by Napoleon’s army in 1798.

Although it would stand out in rural Suffolk, the house was designed to pay homage to Italian architecture and design, something the 4th Earl was passionate about.

Sadly, the 4th Earl died before the completion of the house. His son the 5th Earl (and future Marquess) continued the project, and shared his father’s love of Italian art and architecture. Whilst the construction was on, the 5th Earl travelled Europe to amass a collection of art to fill the new house. The Marquess and his family finally moved in August 1829, some 130 years after the conception of the manor house.

Whilst the manor is a large building based around a central Rotunda, the family accommodation was the East Wing of the house (now Ickworth Hotel). The Rotunda was used to display the art, and the other buildings made up the state rooms and various ancillary services. The family continued to live there right up until the 1950’s, carrying out a major refurbishment in 1910.

In 1956, ownership of the house passed to the Treasury in lieu of death-duties. The site was passed to the National Trust shortly after. The Hervey family continued to live at Ickworth until 1996 when the 7th Marquess finally sold the lease over to the National Trust who continue to preserve the site.


Sadly, the main house wasn’t open on the day, but the servants quarters were.

Unlike other sites, the servants quarters had been refurbished a few years ago, and made to look how it would have when the 4th Marquess was in residence. Unlike the upstairs, not all of the items inside are original, which means you are able to get up close and personal.

I didn’t take many photo’s, as there wasn’t a huge amount to get good pictures of, especially in museum style lighting, but hopefully my shots tell some of the homes story.


The Rotunda from the West Wing of the property.

Some of the workman’s tools in the Servants Quarters. As I mentioned, these are not all original, but give an idea of what was used by workmen at the time.

The link between the Servants Quarters and the main house. The service lift.

Some of the artefacts in the finishing Kitchen. Coronation and Jubilee mugs seem to be a common site at places like this. Makes you wonder if in 200 years time the Harry and Megan commemorative mugs will adorn national trust sites.

Some cupboard contents in the Finishing Kitchen, which would have been typical of the 4th Marquess time frame.

The office, furnished with furniture from the period and a working phone…. sort of.

The Servants Hall. this would have been the common room for the servants and is believed to have been the only one up until 1895 when a second was created in the East Wing.

The Rotunda. You can see with its columns and details that it is heavily influenced by Italian architecture. Whilst there appear to be openings along the corridors to the main wings, it is not believed that there were any windows here. The could have been for displaying statues, or just to keep an architectural consistency.

The house form across the lawn. The family residence East Wing to the left, West Wing to the left and the grand Rotunda in the middle.


We didn’t spend a long time here. With the house closed and it being cold outside, we decided to go run some other errands that afternoon. We will go back though, perhaps in the summer when it is warm and the house is open.

As always. Thanks for looking.


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