History

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Did you know ...

  • Mussenden Temple at Downhill Demesne © Robert Morris

    A move from Co. Londonderry

    The Earl-Bishop indulged his love of round buildings first at Downhill in County Londonderry.

  • The iconic Rotunda of Ickworth House © NTPL/Arnhel de Serra

    Decades of work

    The Rotunda took over 47 years to complete. The Earl-Bishop never saw his masterpiece finished.

  • The iconic Rotunda of Ickworth House © Rupert Truman

    A tourist attraction from the start

    The unfinished Rotunda attracted visitors in their droves, fascinated by its iconic design.

  • The Smoking Room with white marble chimneypiece © Andreas von Einsiedel

    A museum and a home

    The Hervey family lived in the east wing and the Rotunda was used to showcase their treasures.

  • Step back in time and enjoy living history days in the basement © Philip Mynott/National Trust Ickworth

    The basement

    Lady Theodora Hervey renovated the basement in 1910 and showed considerable care for her servants...

The Rotunda as we know it

The Rotunda from the Italianate garden is a real treat to see

The Rotunda from the Italianate garden is a real treat to see

Ickworth was home to the Hervey family for just over five centuries, 1432 - 1956. However, the Rotunda as we know it has only been around for the last 200 years or so.

Previously the family lived in a Tudor manor house beside Ickworth church which eventually fell into decay through lack of upkeep and had to be demolished.

The building of the Rotunda began in 1795 but it wasn't completed until 1841. Its design was the vision of the Earl-Bishop, who only lived long enough for the exterior to be completed.

The interior was an empty shell and the curving corridors and wings were just a few feet off the ground. It was left to the Earl-Bishop’s son, the future 1st Marquess of Bristol, to make what he could of his father’s extraordinary plan and to do start work on restoring the Earl-Bishop's collection which had been confiscated by Napoleonic troops in 1798.

The Rotunda basement, now restored to its 1910 appearance, offers a real insight into what it was like to live and work in this extraordinary place.

Take time to explore the magnificent park and its gardens © Sean Reid

Take time to explore the magnificent park and its gardens

A welcoming place

The Hervey family have traditionally welcomed visitors.

From lavish parties and events to simply allowing local families and the families of their servants and estate workers to use the parkland to play.

Today there's something new to see each season and for all tastes, offering a wonderful retreat whatever the weather.

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