A day at Ickworth

Ickworth house
My friend Jenni was over from America with her youngest daughter (I'm godmother to both her daughters), so last weekend I went back to Norfolk to stay with my mum and see all of them. On Saturday we went for a day out at Ickworth, a National Trust property. We'd had really big storms (and some much-needed rain) the night before, but the day was bright and sunny, but nowhere near the 34-degree temperatures of Friday.

I'd never heard of Ickworth, but it's lovely. It's a Georgian Italianate building with a really unusual structure, two wings with a central rotunda. The interior was redone in the early 1900s, with electricity and lots of bathrooms installed. Oh modernity!

One wing is a posh hotel nowadays. That limited the space available to show things, and to be honest the interior of the house was a little disappointing. 'Below stairs' (the servants' area) was excellent, with a finishing kitchen and a servants' dining area, a sitting room, a bedroom and an office to poke around and so on. Goddaughter Heather was hoping to see a ghost, but the staff assured her the building was too modern to have any ghosts. Tsk, they could have bought in a haunted bed or something...
Servants' sitting room, Ickworth
Do you ever look around a National Trust/similar place to see if they have anything on display like you've got at home? I bet I'm not the only vintage lover who does that! Well, I spotted a knitting book like one of mine, and a teaset in a pattern matching a sandwich plate we have at home, so that was fun. Of course, anything similar to anything I own will be found below stairs. Damask furniture and gilt-framed oil paintings aren't my style, and wouldn't fit into my house.

I have a feeling the servant's bedroom was reproduced downstairs to give people an idea of what a typical one would be like, as those would usually have been in the attic. It wasn't possible to go all the way up to the top of the building, and the 'above stairs' part of the house was also very limited, with just the one bedroom and dressing room, a drawing room and library, plus a room full of the family's silver plate, and some impressive paintings, mainly portraits of the family. It was lovely, but really left me hankering for more. It didn't really convey a sense of personality or even of passing through the Hervey family's history.
Drawing room, Ickworth
One thing that was very good was accessibility; Jenni's mum uses a wheelchair and was able to use lifts (elevators) to see all parts of the building, so while there wasn't masses to see, everything there was to see was accessible to everyone.
Flower border with lots of rudbeckia, Ickworth
We didn't get a good look round the garden. However, the border at the front of the house was absolutely lovely, and gave me lots of ideas for my own garden. There's a little shop at the property selling plants presumably left over from the displays at the house, so I bought an agapanthus. I really like the enormous ones with their belt-like leaves, but as Chez Robot is rather smaller than Ickworth, I settled for a much smaller plant, in a wonderfully bright blue that's just what my garden needs.

I hope you had a great weekend! I've got a pile of freelance to get through this week, so I might be a bit quiet, but normal service should be resumed soon, and I've already bought my train tickets to go to London on 18 August for the Vintage Car Boot. (Now I have the fear that I'll be all alone that day, but I'm sure my friend Sam will come along, and even if I do end up alone, London's packed with museums and the V and A never gets dull...)


  1. Ickworth looks gorgeous and I'd happily move into the servants sitting room, it's gorgeous. The garden looks utterly wonderful, I do love a agapanthus.
    I can't wait to see you at the Classic Car Boot Sale. xxx

    1. I'm going to drag my friend Sam there, so we'll be browsing the menswear! (She likes wearing men's shirts.) I'll also have some bits and bobs to pass on to you.

  2. How beautiful is this building, I especially love the central rotunda. Haven't seen anything like it. What a pity the interior was a bit disappointing. Being a collector of kitchenalia, we often see things we have at Dove Cottage in the kitchen and servants' quarters. They're my favourite part, usually. xxx

    1. Yes, structurally it's unique in Britain. They had lots of very good copper moulds in the kitchen, but it was still pretty bare - nothing like it would have been when in use.

  3. My decor is largely 70's kitsch, so I hope I never see it in a museum or historic home-that would be horrifying!

    1. I dunno, can you imagine a stately home done out in 70s stuff? How groovy would that be?!


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