Ickworth Northern Estate walk, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk
The Northern Estate walk will take you past hidden parts of the Ickworth Estate which are often overlooked. See the Tea-party Oak; Old Victorian Ice House; the Fawn Summerhouse and the site of the village of Little Horringer.
An easy walk for all the family..
Porter's Lodge Visitor Centre TL814616
Start at the Porter’s Lodge – or Honeyball Cottage.
The cottage was built just before 1850 using the style common to the other estate buildings of the time. Originally it was the lodge serving the last gates to the house. It later earned the name Honeyball Cottage after Jack Honeyball who worked at Ickworth under the 4th Marquess. He was employed to look after the newly-installed generators which provided electricity for the main house.
Facing the Porter’s Lodge turn left.
The gate posts remain in place showing where the gates would have been. The iron work shows the detailing which is replicated on the other ironwork gates around the estate. The gates have been removed, but remain in the National Trust’s collection. The Hervey family always welcomed local villagers to walk and play on the estate, but this gate was as close to the house as they were allowed to go – the Pleasure Gardens and Albana Walk remained off-limits.
Pass through the Lodge Gates and carry straight on, passing the car park on your left and the main drive on your right. A little way along this path, look to the left and you will notice in the field a particularly fine old oak tree protected by a fence. If no livestock are present, cross the field and look closer.
Tea Party Oak
This is known as the ‘Tea Party Oak’, and got its name from the tea parties that were held for local children from around 1869 until 1907. The tree itself is thought to be among the oldest on the estate and is hard to date as it is hollow, but might be 700 years old. The oak stands out as it has grown into a very strange shape, which shows its age and gives it its own character.
Continuing further along the road you will reach the Lodge on the left hand-side..
Between 1710 and 1795, whilst the present Ickworth house was being built, the family would have largely stayed in the Lodge (Ickworth Lodge) when on the estate. It is now part of the Ickworth Hotel.
Carry straight on along the road (signed to King’s Meadow). At the next junction take the left-hand path following the red route marker post. Continue downhill and stop when reaching a gate in the hedge on the left
If you look carefully at the top of the hill you will be able to make out the Ice House. There is a path leading up to it, but please remember that the structure is unsafe so do not climb on it or try to enter. The earliest known reference to the Ice House dates from 1804 but little else is known of its origins except that it was formed from what was originally a quarry pit. Although it seems a long way from the house, this is perhaps because it was built before the current house while the family were still living in the Lodge (Dower House). Originally the ice would have come from the waterways on the estate and have been packed into the underground vault. In the 1930’s ice started to be brought in from Whipps the Fishmongers based in Bury St. Edmunds. According to accounts of local children, the Ice House hill was a favourite place to play in the winter and the best hill for sledging down. Today it is home to some of the nine bat species found on the estate. Look to your right and you are looking at the site of Little Horringer, one of the villages that were on the estate. Unfortunately nothing now remains.
On the road again, turn left and carry on downhill until you reach a gate and stile on the left. Cross the stile and onto the track which follows the course of the River Linnet.
This track was once part of a route which went from Bury. St. Edmunds to Chevington. It seems to have been a busy road for farmers from the local villages to herd their cattle down to market in Bury. Unfortunately this did not fit into the landscape that the 5th Earl (later 1st Marquess) was trying to create, so in 1814 the road was closed and an Act of Parliament obtained to stop the road being used. This was granted on the condition a new road round the estate was provided. As this added quite some distance onto the journey into Bury, it seems the old road was still used, so in 1823 the New Canal was built.
Continue on this track crossing the stile. Once across and through the gate, step into the trees to look at the earthworks
These earthworks are all that remain of the dam built to form the New Canal. The detail from the 1850 Tithe Map shows the line of the road being covered by the water of the canal. The dam was only in place for about 30 years before it burst. Reports from the time suggest that it flooded out Westgate in Bury St. Edmunds when it did so.
Return to the track and carry on until reaching the bridge on your left over the River Linnet. Cross the bridge and follow the path up hill and into the Albana Walk, bearing left where the path divides.
Follow the path until you arrive at the Fawn Summerhouse.
The Fawn Summerhouse was built in the 1830’s. It gained the name because Lord Francis Hervey, son of the 2nd Marquess encountered a fawn here. He wrote about this encounter and a plaque referencing this was displayed here. Sadly this was stolen some years ago but there are plans to replace it
Carry on the Albana Walk bearing left until you reach the gate. Go through the two gates and then take the path to your right. You will shortly reach two metal gate posts shortly before the path meets the drive.
The original gate has been stolen by metal-thieves, but the posts remain. This gate-work is a lovely example of the early 19th Century iron-work which was common throughout the estate. Here they remain in good condition as they are protected from the elements.
Now follow the path to the drive and turn left, continuing to the Porter’s Lodge Visitor Centre and the end of your walk. The open-air dog-friendly café is situated at the rear!
Porter's Lodge Visitor Centre TL814616
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