History of the Rotunda
A monument to the idea of Italy
The Rotunda is a monument to the idea of Italy in the English mind.
Though unsuited to the Suffolk climate, Frederick Augustus Hervey, the Earl-Bishop and 4th Earl of Bristol, captivated by Italian art, architecture and sculpture, built this magnificent building to house his collection and his estranged wife and family.
Home and symmetry
Gossip, secret recipes and keeping everyone fed
Lady Elizabeth Foster (1759-1824), favourite daughter of the Earl-Bishop, had an unhappy marriage to John Foster, MP. Befriended by Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, she became one part of a 'ménage a trois' with the Duke. The miniature she is wearing in this picture is thought to be of Georgiana. Elizabeth went on to marry the Duke in 1809 after Georgiana's death.
The cook reigned over the kitchens at Ickworth, and from 1906 to 1950 the cook was Mrs Sangster. She was very highly regarded by the family and also by the staff. In order to prevent rivals from stealing her recipes, she would sometimes banish everyone from the kitchen while she worked on particularly difficult dishes.
Keeping everyone fed
Ken Saddler, the head gardener in the 1930s would call Mrs Sangster daily to find out what produce was required for the kitchen. 'There was a big population up at the house, 14 kitchen maids, 14 scullery maids, scores of girls up there. We used to feed all them, West Suffolk Hospital, the chauffeur, the keepers, head keeper...we used to feed all them from that garden.'