Conservation in progress, Beaulieu Estate ice house

The conservation work to this listed structure can be seen with pictures of our work with volunteers, the next stage of the conservation of the Beaulieu Estate ice house requires Listed Building consent for the remaining repair. This work is part of our rediscovering Archaeological Heritage in the New Forest National Park’s HLF funded (Our Past Our future) Landscape Scheme. The Beaulieu Estate is one of our main partners.

Previous work of recording here:

http://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/news/article/681/laser_scanning_brings_ice_house_to_life

The Beaulieu Estate ice house is a late example as it was constructed in the 1870s when Beaulieu Palace House was extended as a main residence in 1872 for Lord Montague and constructed around the original monastic gate house by the architect Arthur Blomfield.

The on-site cleaning and repointing work of the Beaulieu Estate ice house has revealed details of the method of construction, its phasing and this supports the documentary evidence for the adaption of the ice house in the Second World War to store apples from the adjacent orchard. The ice house had long been redundant once refrigeration had been introduce. Documentary research in the Beaulieu Estate archives it is hoped will provide further details about its usage.

The ventilators are clearly a secondary feature presumably being added in the Second World War to ensure that the CO2 given off by the apples in an enclosed space did not cause potential hazard to the estate workers managing the apple store at that time. Adjacent to the ice house the base of a former pig sty will be investigated one wonders what the war-time pigs might have been fed on?

It was possible to establish that the mortar mixes around the inserted stone-ware soil-pipe ventilators were quite consistent but very different from the primary construction mortars. The marks of the bolster used to cut the holes in the dome of the ice house were also visible. The primary hard nineteenth cement-like mortar that the bricks of the dome are set in had a course aggregate base. The nineteenth century facing pointing is in a hard cement with a very fine washed sand aggregate.

Further recording will take place as the original curved wooden outer-door surround has left impressions in the hard cement mortar final pointing. It would appear that the curved surround was inserted as building work took place and acted both as the former to the arch and ultimately the door surround and was made in morticed sections. The bricks used in construction are a mixture of the local ‘Beaulieu buffs’ and red bricks that are stamped with Beaulieu and are  products of the Estate brick kiln at Baileys Hard on the Beaulieu River.

The materials used for repointing included hydraulic lime (3.5) and a grit aggregate sieved from material from the estate’s own quarry that matches the original aggregate very closely.

The Ice house once fully conserved and the dome recovered with spoil will become another visitor attraction to the National Motor Museum, Abbey and Palace House at Beaulieu. It will provide a useful addition to tell the story of refrigeration and food storage through time.

Frank Green BA MPhil MSc MCIfA IHBC

Archaeologist, New Forest National Park Authority 

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