Being in the historical town of Bury St. Edmunds now, I have been exposed to much local history bits and pieces that oftentimes, non locals like me will find it interesting. It brings out something that I am able to explore as someone who recently moved in. As a Filipina who loved adventure and exploration, I find Ickworth House as something that is fitting for a visit on a sunny day.
As such was the case, one fine Sunday I went with my batch mates KD and Marlyn to Ickworth House. We have been trying to visit but we had been swamped with shifts and OSCE days.
Ickworth House is a vast estate owned by the Frederick William Hervey, second son of the 4th Earl of Bristol (or the Earl Bishop) and his wife Elizabeth Davers. More to the story of Frederick Hervey here. Their family share a rich legacy of wealth and politics as well. And an interesting web of intricate stories can be found here.
Moving Around the Rotunda
As we started our tour of the house, we started at the Rotunda, where it is the starting point of the entire tour. We are ushered in to a high ceiling room, and was advised that the door will be closed for the reason that, dust will come inside the main hall as the main roof is being replaced after almost 300 years.
Upon entering, the Statue of the Fury of Athamus by artist, Flaxman greets you by the end of the hallway. It may seem a bit odd for a palace to have a statue that evokes violence and harshness, but again, no one really knows what was on the mind of the owner of the house when he had that. After all, he had immense wealth and is a patron of the arts.
The main hallway had the painted portraits of the inhabitants of the house and gave us a glimpse of how it is to live back then. The paintings also held the gazes of the past and seemed to hold the key to the future. In a heartbeat, I was whisked back in time to what seemed to be world of their own grandiosity. The place itself is very grand, and very spacious. There is a balance of architectural elements as well as symmetry of the columns represent harmony in the house.
The State Rooms
The house have what they call as the State Rooms. It is where the family gathered to wine and dine as well as to gossip, play chess or perhaps, play cards. Aside from that, in a pure Victorian Era fashion, they also had ornate ceilings and drapes, high bookshelves, well appointed furniture, and low lighting highlighted with chandeliers. The last owner, Lady Alice Theodora Wythes, made it sure that she spent a good sum of her fortune to place electricity to Ickworth House and apply the technology that was considered advanced for that time.
The Life Beneath The Floors
It gets more interesting when we ventured into the life beneath the floors, or what they commonly refer to as the Servant’s Hall. As we tread on the hallways, we had seen how the servants keep the house running like a well-oiled machine. Each gallery of the basement represented a section of everyday Victorian Life, from the kitchen to the laundry to the storage. It also showed us the reality that back in the olden days, each meal is prepared fresh and from scratch,
Walking by The Gardens
As the gardens unfolded before my very eyes, I had been transported into a different dimension. There was a sense of belonging to the leaves of the trees, softly swaying by the wind, and the slow reckoning of the winding paths and flowers that lead to the different areas. Horticulture is pretty much alive in this estate. The well manicured gardens gave its visitors a taste of what it is to be enveloped in solitude with plants that evoke a sense of high well being and contentment.
HOW TO GET THERE
Ickworth House contact details:
The Rotunda, Horringer, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, IP29 5QE