Ickworth History walk, Ickworth Park, Horringer, near Bury. St. Edmunds, Suffolk
With its history traced back to Domesday, Ickworth park has quite a story to tell. Originally managed as a working estate, its status today as a pleasure ground dates back only as far as the early 18th century. Walk with us around this beautiful parkland and let your imagination fly with our stories of its development over the years under the care, love and sometimes eccentric attentions of generations of Herveys and St Edmundsbury Abbey.
This route takes in a mixture of way-marked routes and cross-country paths, taking you through diverse habitats and scenery including open parkland with some great views. The remote areas and ancient woodland provides likely spots for deer sightings, while closer to the house, you pass the walled garden and church.
Porter's Lodge visitor reception, grid reference TL815617
Start at the Porter's Lodge visitor reception and take the path into the Albana Woods opposite the building.
In 1253, Thomas D'Ickworth was granted the right to create a deer park on land then belonging to the Abbey in Bury St. Edmunds, with the hall being built in the 13th century. By 1710 the hall was left unused and in disrepair by the Hervey family who then owned the park, and was finally demolished; the foundations for the new Ickworth House being laid in 1795.
Continue along the Albana walk path until you reach a five bar gate. Go through the gate; and turn left until reaching another gate. The area in front of you is the site of the medieval village of Ickworth
The first known documentation of Ickworth village was in 942, and it was deserted by 1670. Imagine a small village (from tax records in 1327) of 26 households whose life mostly revolved around the hall. As you look through the village towards St. Mary's church is Parson's Pond; so called because of the site of the Rectory which would have stood next to it.
If the field is clear of livestock, continue through the gate; down over the field towards Parson's pond. If livestock are present, it will be necessary to retrace your steps back to the beginning of the Albana walk, turning right and heading towards another five bar gate and the surfaced path down to Parson's Pond.
This pond is near the site of the parsonage, burnt down in the 16th century while the rector was out of the country. From the original deeds, the parsonage consisted of a 'hall, a parlour, a dairy and buttery, two little lower chambers, and three upper chambers.'
Continue down the hill to St. Mary's Church
St. Mary's Church
The church is mentioned in the Domesday book, however the earliest part dates back to the 13th century when Thomas de Ickworth acquired the land. When the village was abandoned, it became the Hervey family's own church, and every Hervey from 1467 is buried here. After restoration, the church is now open for visitors, so please explore when open. Entry is free, but there is a donation box inside; all donations being used for church upkeep.
Now walking to the right of the church; go round the back and look over the field behind the church yard. This is the site of the medieval Ickworth Hall
The earliest building on this site was a half-timber building which would have been highly decorated. An archaeological excavation in 1982 revealed that the hall would have had several brick extensions resulting in an impressive 'U' shaped building similar in looks to this engraving of Kentwell Hall in Long Melford. Between 1710 and 1795, when the present Ickworth house was being built, the family would have largely stayed in the Lodge (Ickworth Lodge).
Walk back to the main road and continue down the hill past the walled garden, until reaching the cross roads, and bridge to your left. Before reaching the cross roads, stop for a view of the 'White House'. Now cross the bridge and turn right.
The 'White House'
The White House is one of 19 cottages on the estate. By the mid 19th century, due to the agricultural depression, the rural aristocracy had to find ways to retain their tenants' loyalty. One way was to improve tenant's living conditions. The Marquess of Bristol borrowed vast sums of money to improve his housing stock; then lowered rents resulting in a huge loss, but it did preserve the cottages for future generations.
Walk up to the White House; go through the gate to the right, and continue on for about a mile, until reaching a stile gate.
The surrounding fields are some of the few arable areas on the estate. Traditionally Ickworth was parkland and tenanted small-holdings. By the Second World War vast areas of the park had been turned over to crops. A variety of crops are still grown including wheat, maize, rape seed and sugar beet. We've been working to return much of this land to parkland as was originally intended.
Just before you reach the stile gate, a footbridge to your right will take you up to the back of the Albana Wood (orange markers bearing to the right through the trees) on the Trim Trail walk.
Cross this footbridge and head towards the Albana wood. Look out for a seat to take a rest. The area you have just walked used to be a third lake on the estate known as Ickworth Park lake, (1823 until 1880).
Now you are on the Albana walk Trim trail section. Bear right, following the orange markers; bearing left will show you more of the Albana walk, but both routes will eventually take you back to the Porter's Lodge and the end of your walk. Ensure you stop for a coffee and a sandwich at the rear of the Porter's Lodge. Very dog-friendly.
The Albana walk is full of history and intrigue, and began its life in 1806 being created in the Italianate style by the 1st Marquess for his wife Elizabeth Albana Upton, having an easy walking surface for the ladies of the family. The woods here are full of old trees including this 600- year old pollard oak, which is now a fantastic wildlife habitat. The majority of our ancient trees are left over from medieval field boundaries.
Porter's Lodge visitor reception, grid reference TL815617
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