Waterperry House
Ice Houses
The Ice House
Repairs Needed
Fund Raising
Waterperry Gardens


Deep in the Oxfordshire country, a few miles east of Oxford, is a delightful old country house and garden centre called Waterperry, next to the village of the same name.

On the Waterperry grounds is a large mound of earth, used to support a tall water tower which was once used to irrigate the gardens.

What is not obvious at first glance is what lurks beneath that mound - the Waterperry Ice House.

This website tells you all about it.



Waterperry House

Waterperry House is a large country house, set in 83 acres of its own grounds, surrounded by farmland, a few miles east of Oxford. It is used extensively by the School of Economic Science as a residential centre for retreats, study days, study weekends and weeks.

A substantial and very well known horticultural centre, Waterperry Gardens, forms part of the property, with an adjacent garden centre and cafe open to the public seven days a week. The beautiful and very well-kept gardens, also open to the public, cover some eight acres, and there is a newly completed open air theatre for use in the summer months.  There is also a museum of agricultural tools and a much visited arts and crafts gallery.

The house itself is mediaeval in origin, with Jacobean and Georgian additions.


ICE HOUSESCross-section of an ice house

Ice houses are buildings used to store ice throughout the year, commonly used prior to the invention of the refrigerator. Some were underground chambers, usually man-made, close to natural sources of winter ice such as freshwater lakes, but many were buildings with various types of insulation.

The ice house was introduced to Britain around 1660. Various types and designs of ice house exist. However, British ice houses were commonly brick lined, domed structures, with most of their volume underground. Ice houses varied in design depending on the date and builder, but were mainly conical or rounded at the bottom to hold melted ice. They usually had a drain to take away any water. It is recorded that the idea for ice houses was brought to Britain by travelers who had seen similar arrangements in Italy, where peasants collected ice from the mountains and used it to keep food fresh inside caves.



Waterperry, like most large country estates, had (and has) an ice house, the entrance of which is visible on the north side of the mound.

The actual ice house is in excellent condition, but unfortunately the entrance tunnel is damaged, and will need to be repaired / rebuilt before it would be safe to allow public access.

This website is designed to make you aware of this little gem at Waterperry, and keep you informed of our progress in attempting to restore it.


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Last modified: 22/09/2016