Visiting Ickworth House Bury St. Edmunds

A country house tour

In a country of countless country houses, Ickworth House stands out for its unique architecture. It is built in the Italianate style with a central rotunda and 2 curved wings going off it. As you visit the rooms on the Rotunda the uniqueness of the curved exterior walls is a delight to the eye and yet still surprises as you move room to room.Image086

Ickworth was constructed by the Earl Bishop, Frederick, 4th Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry. The family name of the Earls of Bristol was Hervey. The house is not currently in the possession of the family, it belongs to the National Trust and the east wing has been turned into a four star luxury hotel.

Construction on Ickworth House began in 1795, and the Earl Bishop viewed it as more of a museum than a comfortable home. His extensive art, silver and furniture collections are now on display in the house.

The rooms

The first room you visit is the Dining Room – it has 6 large silver candelabra, on the right hand wall is a lovely picture of the Hervey Sisters in identical white dresses with blue sashes. The library has 4 pillars. They are ground marble over a wood frame and hollow. The silk on the curtains and couches is made in Sudbury. There is a very nice painting by Benjamin West of the death of General Wolfe on the Plains of Abraham.

The Drawing Room has a beautiful portrait of Lady Elizabeth Foster by Angelika Kaufman and a portrait of the Earl Bishop by Viger Lebrun. The chandeliers in this room were made in Birmingham. A man came with scroll designs and stood on a stool so they could pick which one looked best in each room.

The Pompeian Room has several gorgeous tables made of mosaic and marble from tombs along the Appian Way in Rome. The ceiling of the room is a dome, amazing. When you first go upstairs, there is a beautiful display of the fan collection of the 3rd Marchioness of Bristol. Some of the fans are from as early as the 18th century.

One of the bedrooms has a beautiful and unusual Venetian Murano Glass chandelier. It is very colorful and the guide in that room said that people seem to either love or hate it, with most women loving it. I have to admit that yes, I did love it.

The Museum Room housed some of the massive silver collection. A silver baby rattle and a huge wine cistern were among my favorites, as well as cases of miniatures. Included is a beautiful portrait of Georgiana Devonshire and Elizabeth Foster who shared the love of the Duke of Devonshire and yet remained close friends, as well as snuffboxes and perfume bottles.Image082

We ended our tour with a visit to the gift shop and a bit of play acting. Some really interesting hats are offered for you to try on and model and of course, we did.

Be sure to check their website or the National Trust for opening times and fees. Ickworth is included in the National Trust Touring Pass.

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