Ickworth: Estate offers beautiful gardens, indoor treasures
March 11, 2009
The palatial Ickworth estate, situated just outside Bury St. Edmunds, is home to acres of woodland, gardens and a beautiful former residence.
The 18th-century Georgian house is fitted with a rotunda and gazes out upon 1,800 acres of forest and 70 acres’ worth of gardens. It is the jewel of this lovely estate.
Starting this month, the Ickworth House will be open for tours, during which visitors can see the building that was originally a home for the family of the fourth earl of Bristol, Frederick Harvey. His family lived in the house until The National Trust acquired it in 1956.
The house is full of international art, Georgian silver and Regency furniture, according to events and marketing coordinator Julia Vinson. In fact, one of the reasons it was built was to house treasures the earl had collected from across Europe. Among the collection are works by Titian, Velasquez and English painter Thomas Gainsborough.
Outside the dominant rotunda, the west wing has been converted into a visitors center while the east wing is now a posh hotel.
The hotel fits the bill when it comes to a romantic atmosphere, but it’s not cheap, with rooms starting at about 300 pounds.
The estate’s true beauty will be in bloom in the coming months, as the vast gardens come alive after their winter slumber.
The well-manicured hedges, trees and other shrubbery can form the backbone of a fun day exploring the area. There is also a working farm on the estate.
Visitors who go past the old St. Mary’s Church on the grounds will find walking and cycling paths connecting them to the estate’s isolated countryside and lakes.
In all, there are more than 20 miles of marked paths to help visitors get the most out of Ickworth, according to Vinson.
Ickworth estate also hosts various seasonal activities throughout the year. It’s a great way to take advantage of an all-too-rare sunny British afternoon.
Hours: The house is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Wednesday and Thursday March 14 through Nov. 1. The garden is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily March 15 through Nov. 2; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the rest of the year. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Admission: Entry to the house, park and gardens is 8.75 pounds for adults, 3.50 pounds for children; a family ticket is 20.80 pounds. There are also special rates for groups of 12 or more, and for just the park and gardens.