Thursday, 28 February 2008

The Ice House

Dave surveys the excavated chamber from ground level as Tai looks on.

In the gardens at Brewood Hall, there's an underground room which we've always called the 'Ice House'. However, at some time in the past (probably in the 19th century) the occupiers decided it would be a good place to dispose of the ashes from the many coal fires in the Hall. They filled the underground room to the roof so that it was impossible to seen the size of the room or the method of construction. There have been various tentative attempts over the years at removing the ash and sufficient spoil was removed to disclose the top few inches of a brick lined chamber around 8 feet square.

Late in 2007, Dave decided that the job needed completing and, together with Rick and Jim (and about four 8 cubic yard skips), the room is now revealed.

The brick walls are in fair condition, with random stone in places. Intentionally missing bricks on the front and rear walls suggest that shelves may have run along each side of the room and there are a number of old metal supports in the side walls, presumably to reduce sagging in these shelves. The rear wall has two rectangular recesses with stone lintels. The roof is a shallow arch made of sandstone 'bricks' still in excellent condition. There are two 'vent holes' set in the roof. The one in the centre of the roof has a brick 'chimney', rising towards ground level but currently closed off at the top. The second 'vent' is adjacent to the rear wall and, although apparently intentional, the purpose is, at present, unclear. The floor is of quarry tiles, in fairly good condition, apart from one area halfway along the left hand wall as you enter. There is a soakaway in the left corner as you enter (identified as 'corner 1' in the pictures).

Access is via brick steps from ground level. This entrance has a brick arch roof and brick recesses on the left and right. There was originally a sandstone lintel and wooden door frame and door. When more studies have been undertaken, a replacement lintel and door will be fitted.

There is a persistent rumour in the village of an underground passage joining the Hall to the Church. These excavations have not revealed any evidence of a tunnel starting in this underground chamber. The possibility was also mooted that the chamber might be a Cold Plunge Bath House. Sadly, there's no evidence to support this notion, either.

More pictures.