An old secret has been revealed at a National Trust country house after heavy rainfall brought the return of 'the ice freezing pond', shedding light on a vanished way of life.

The wet weather at Hanbury Hall near Droitwich, managed by the National Trust, has brought the return of the 'ice freezing pond'.

Thanks to recent deluges, the man-made hollow has filled with water after many years and gives a stark impression of what life was like before fridges and freezers were invented.

Worcester News: STATELY: Hanbury Hall managed by the National Trust STATELY: Hanbury Hall managed by the National Trust (Image: James Connell/Newsquest)

The rare phenomenon provides a glimpse into what life must have been like among the upper classes in the heyday of the 18th-century stately home which stands in parkland at Hanbury.

The red brick building, built in the Queen Anne style, is one of the most popular National Trust destinations in the county.

Icehouses were once commonplace, used for preserving food and keeping drinks cool in summer, but their death knell was sounded by the advent of the domestic fridge which rendered them obsolete. 



A spokesperson for the National Trust said: "Icehouses are subterranean structures designed specifically to store ice, usually removed in winter from ponds and used in the summer for preserving food and cooling drinks.

"Icehouses were initially built only by the upper level of society, but by the end of the 18th century they were commonplace.

Worcester News: ATMOSPHERIC: Hanbury Hall, pictured last autumn ATMOSPHERIC: Hanbury Hall, pictured last autumn (Image: James Connell/Newsquest)

"Icehouses only became obsolete after the introduction of domestic refrigerators in the early 20th century. Although a relatively common class, most recorded examples with surviving remains will be considered to be of national interest and appropriate for consideration for either scheduling or listing. They are also generally regarded as a significant component of local distinctiveness and character."

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The icehouse and ponds at Hanbury Hall survive as a well-preserved 18th century example of this class of monument.

Worcester News: ADVENTURE: There are many paths to tread and places to explore at the National Trust's Hanbury Hall ADVENTURE: There are many paths to tread and places to explore at the National Trust's Hanbury Hall (Image: James Connell/Newsquest)

An NT spokesperson added: "The ability to provide the house and estate with its own ice was of both economic importance and a measure of social status, providing an insight into the lifestyle of the occupants of the house.

"The survival of the associated ponds and ice freezing pool is unusual and has increased our understanding of domestic ice production and the relationship between production and storage.

"The monument includes the standing, buried, and earthwork remains of the 18th century icehouse, associated ponds and ice freezing pool, at Hanbury Hall.

"The icehouse and ponds are within two separate areas of protection.  The icehouse, which is a Listed Building Grade II, consists of an 8.4m long by 1.8m high brick lined and barrel vaulted entrance passage with a drain. It has been calculated that the icehouse could contain between 24 and 33 tons of ice. 

"Approximately 50m to the west of the icehouse and lying within a separate area of protection is a series of three ponds. The two upper ponds are still water filled and the lower, shallow ice freezing pool is dry.

"This is why we have been able to see the ice freezing pool in the photos due the rainfall we have recently had.  The ice freezing pool measures approximately 60m by 40m by up to 1.5m deep and is defined by external banks and a dam."

The icehouse at Hanbury Hall is closed at the moment while it awaits conservation work.