CRAKEMARSH HALL ICE HOUSE
'Crakemarsh - a marsh ferquented by crakes (a bird with a short bill such as the corncrake).'
Crakemarsh was listed in the Doomsday Book of 1086 with the estate passing through many hands since then.
It appears that the late Cotton family were the first family to build a manor house, close to where Crakemarsh Hall once stood.
The late John Walker in his excellent booklet, 'The ancient Manor of Crakemarsh.' believed that the present Garden House may be part of the old manor house.
The Cotton's were at Crakemarsh for some 250 years and around 1822, Sir Thomas and Lady Cotton Shepherd began the massive work of building Crakemarsh Hall incorporating it into the exisiting Manor House. It was probablya around this time that the ice house was built.
Through marriage the estate passed into the Cavendish family and in 1912 Tyre C. Cavendish, his wife and her maid were passengers on the ill-fated Titanic. Sadly Mr Cavendish perished, his body was later recovered. His wife and her maid returned to Crakemarsh Hall where Mrs Cavendish later passed away.
During the Second World War, American troops occupied the hall but it suffered some serious damage. The hall was later converted into flats, then in the late 1940's Mr J.C.Bamford rented the building and was going to purchase it, but the hall suffered severe fire damage, thankfully the famous staircase dating to the reign of Charles 11 was saved and taken to Wootton Hall.
The last Cavendish to live at Crakemarsh left in 1968 and ther hall gradually fell into dis-repair and it was demolished in 1998.
The Crakemarsh Hall ice house stands on private land belonging the The Garden House. It was cleaned up and restored by John Walker, who did an excellent job as it is the best Staffordshire ice house I have so far visited,- which was in August 2016,
It is located to the west of the Garden House and is covered with earth and has a brick-walled entrance in a semi-arc shape. The brickwork is topped with copping stones.
The ground by the door is paved with Staffordshire Blue bricks and there is evidence of track lines, probably used for transporting ice, salt and straw for the ice chamber.
Inside there is a short brick-lined corridor to the ice chamber and there are two arched recess's, one either side of the outer door. I was told traces of salt was found in these recesses.
The short corridor shows evidence of it once having an inner door and there is also a door to the ice chamber. The timber on this door isn't original but the hinges are.
The brick-lined ice chamber is completely empty and dry. There is a metal ladderd down to the bottom of the pit which is believed to be the original.
The chamber has a lovely domed roof and the brickwork is in excellent condition. Several bricks have been found in the surrounding area marked 'ROCESTER' - Rocester Brick Works, there are also older bricks scattered around.
As ice houses go, this one is excellent and thankfully the owners realise its importance,