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Home > New Search > Ickworth House

Ickworth House  England 
Horringer, near Bury St. Edmonds, Suffolk, England

Started 1796

Status: Fully Extant

Special Info / Location/ Date

Special Info
Phonetic Pronunciation of House Name

District Today
 Historic County
 City / Town / Village
Horringer, near Bury St. Edmonds

Start Date
Completion Date
Circa Date

The Entrance Façade


Designed   Original plans for House
Date   Circa 1795

Designed   Park
Date   18th century

Designed   Remodeled Entrance Hall
Date   1907

Designed   Pavilions for 1st Marquess of Bristol
Date   Circa 1825-30

Designed   Adapted the design and oversaw construction of the House, together with his brother, Joseph Sandys.
Date   1796

Designed   Idea for rotunda shape of House, probably based on designs of Mario Asprucci.
Date   18th century
Attribution of this work is uncertain.

Extant / Listed / References

Extant Type
Fully Extant
Extant Details

House Listed As 
Grade I
Gardens Listed As  
Grade II*
Country House:  Yes

Vitruvius Britannicus
Vitruvius Scoticus
J.B. Burke (Burke's Visitation of Seats)
Vol. I, p. 78, 1852.
Country Life
LVIII, 668, 698, 1925. CXVIII, 678, 1955. CLIII, 1362, 1973.
J.P. Neale (Neale's Views of Seats)
Access / Ownership / Seat

Open to Public Please note: Houses listed as being open "By Appointment" are usually country house hotels, B&Bs, or schools.
Historic Houses Association Member
Phone Number If calling from the U.S., delete the first "0" in British numbers.
Fax Number

Current Ownership
Current Ownership Type
The National Trust
Primary Current Ownership Use
Visitor Attraction
Current Ownership Use / Details

Seat ("Seat" is loosely defined as any family that occupied the house for a period of 2 years or more)
Today Seat of
A Past Seat(s) of
Frederick Augustus Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry, late 18th-early 19th centuries. Marquess of Bristol; Hervey family here from 15th century until 1990s.
Possible (Unsure) Seat of
History / Gardens & Park / Movies

Earlier House(s) / Building(s)
House Replaced By
Built / Designed For
4th Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry
House & Family History
Beginning in 1796 the eccentric Frederick Augustus Hervey (1730-1803), the famous Earl-Bishop (4th Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry), began to build Ickworth, his equally eccentric house. The front façade of Ickworth House is over 600 feet long, with the focal point being the 100-foot-high elliptical rotunda, connected by quadrants to pavilions, the latter not completed until circa 1830, when they were finished for the 5th Earl of Bristol, later 1st Marquess of Bristol. The West Wing remained uncompleted until 2006, when a joint partnership between the National Trust and Sodexho Prestige resulted in its renovation and opening as a venue for events and conferences. The idea for the rotunda was probably the Earl-Bishop’s and was very likely based on John Plaw’s design for Belle Isle on Lake Windermere, which was itself based on the designs of the Italian architect Mario Asprucci. In 1796 the Earl-Bishop wrote “I flatter myself that my architectural ideas are Pure and Noble. I wish to make it quite classical, to unite magnificence with convenience and simplicity with Dignity – no redundancy – no superfluity – no one unnecessary room, but the necessary ones to be noble and convenient.” Circa 1787 the Earl-Bishop began building an Irish house in Co. Londonderry named Ballyscullion to the same design ultimately implemented at Ickworth (Ballyscullion was never finished and nothing remains of it today). The Earl-Bishop was a great collector of paintings and marbles, an inveterate traveler (Bristol Hotels, famous on the Continent, were named after him), and a lover of Italy (he died there in 1803 in the outhouse of a peasant’s cottage near Rome because the owner didn’t want a Protestant heretic to die under his roof). The National Trust acquired the Ickworth Estate in the 1956 when the 4th Marquess of Bristol (1863–1951) handed over the Estate, together with a significant endowment, in lieu of death duties (the Treasury took much of the contents, also in lieu of death duties, around the same time). As part of the agreement of transfer to The National Trust, a 99-year lease on the 60-room East Wing (the Family Wing) was granted to the 4th Marquess, with the stipulation that accommodation should always be available for the head of the Hervey family at Ickworth. However, in 1998 the 7th Marquess of Bristol (1954–99) sold the lease on the East Wing to The National Trust. This was done partly for financial reasons, partly because of Lord Bristol’s out-of-control drug use, and partly in response to an eviction lawsuit resulting from his behavior on the Estate (he liked to run-down visitors in his Bentley). The 7th Marquess was dubbed a “wastrel” by the “Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.” He appeared frequently in the British tabloids for his wild parties, drug use (he served two terms in prison for drug violations), and homosexuality (he claimed to have used over 2,000 male prostitutes). In 1970, when he was 16, the future Lord Bristol inherited £1 million, topped off by a further £4 million five years later; he managed this money astutely, possessing a net worth of approximately £35 million at its height. By the time of his death at the age of 44, he had lost everything; his estate was probated for £5,000. In July 2002 the East Wing was opened as The Ickworth Hotel and Apartments, with a 27-bedroom hotel in the East Wing and apartments in the Dower House. Lord Hervey, the noted writer and diarist, was the son of the 1st Earl of Bristol. The Hervey family was seated at Ickworth from the 15th century until 1998, when the 7th Marquess vacated the House.
Collections This field lists art objects that are currently or were previously in the collection of the house.

For information on the history of British currency, click here.  To use a chart that allows you to compare the purchasing power of money In Great Britain from 1264 to any other year, including the present, click here.  To use a currency conversion to see the current value of the British pound, click here.
Ickworth contains an exceptional collection of paintings, including works by Titian, Claude, Poussin, and Velázquez, as well as an incomparable series of 18th century family portraits by Hogarth, Batoni, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Angelica Kauffmann, Vigee-Lebrun, Ramsay, and Van Loo. The House contains one of the finest collections of Georgian silver in Britain, as well as excellent Regency porcelain and furniture. Canova designed the Ickworth Library fireplaces for the Earl-Bishop. Jakob Philip Hackert’s pair of "Classical Landscapes," dated 1779 and 1780, purchased by the Earl-Bishop, were sold in 1987 for £900,000 to a Swiss buyer.

Gardens & Park
Garden, Park, Follies and Outbuildings
An Italianate garden, to the south of the House, is set in a "Capability" Brown park with woodland walks, a deer enclosure, a vineyard, a Georgian summer house, a canal, and the lake.
Chapel & Church
Members of the Hervey family, from Thomas Hervey (died 1467) to the 7th Marquess of Bristol (died 1999), have been buried at St. Mary’s Church, also known as Ickworth Church. Located in the Park, the Norman church (with later additions) features a 15th century wall painting of the Angel of the Annunciation, roundels of 14th century Flemish glass, and a 15th-century font The Church is still owned by the Hervey family and is derelict, though the recent formation of the Ickworth Church Conservation Trust (www.ickworthchurch.org.uk) is a reason for hope for the Church’s restoration.

Location for Movies / TV
"Lovejoy" (1986 - TV series, episode 1.9, "Death and Venice," in the Park). "Treasure Hunt" (1988 - TV game show, episode 6.2, "Suffolk"). "The Real Pink Panther: Lord Victor Hervey" (2009 - TV documentary on the 6th Marquess of Bristol).

Author   Kenworthy-Browne, John; Reid, Peter; Sayer, Michael; Watkin, David
Year Published   1981

Author   Sayer, Michael
Year Published   1993

Author   de Breffny, Brian; ffolliott, Rosemary; Mott, George
Year Published   1975
Reference   pgs. 166-168

Author   Colvin, Howard
Year Published   1995
Reference   pgs. 848, 849

Author   Various
Year Published   1972
Reference   pg. 623

There are no documents associated with this house.

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