8. Ice House
Walking up the lower Broadwalk, you may have noticed a small stone arch embedded in the hillside to your left. This is the Ice House, one of the finest and most accessible examples of this type of building in Wales. William Paxton’s servants used it as a fridge, storing ice there from the lakes to keep vegetables cropped from the Double Walled Garden cool.
The Ice House was built before 1824, probably at the end of the 18th century. It is approached along a barrel vaulted brick passage originally sealed by three wooden doors. At the far end a lower vaulted passage leads at right angles to the ice chamber, that is partly sunk into the hillside and lined with brick. The chamber itself is approx. 3 metres deep and the total interior height from the funnel shaped domed roof is approx. 5 metres. In the brick floor of the chamber is a circular basin with an adjoining drain originally covered with a stone slab. Meltwater probably filled the basin before overflowing into the drain. Both the ice chamber and the passage have an outer shell of brick, but unlike some ice houses there is no insulating gap between the layers. Clay was piled around the outside of the passage and the chamber to increase insulation. The idea was that ice that was stored in the chamber over the winter would be taken out during the summer to be used in the mansion to chill the larder.