History in Structure

Icehouse approximately 6m north-east of East Dene house

A Grade II Listed Building in Ventnor, Isle of Wight

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Latitude: 50.6004 / 50°36'1"N

Longitude: -1.185 / 1°11'6"W

OS Eastings: 457774

OS Northings: 78170

OS Grid: SZ577781

Mapcode National: GBR 9F5.770

Mapcode Global: FRA 87DH.44R

Plus Code: 9C2WJR27+5X

Entry Name: Icehouse approximately 6m north-east of East Dene house

Listing Date: 23 March 2023

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1485425

ID on this website: 101485425

Location: Bonchurch, Isle of Wight, PO38

County: Isle of Wight

Civil Parish: Ventnor

Built-Up Area: Ventnor

Traditional County: Hampshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Isle of Wight


Icehouse, built in the early C19, part of the former East Dene estate.


Icehouse, built in the early C19, part of the former East Dene estate.

MATERIAL: brick construction.

DESCRIPTION: the icehouse is an earth-covered, round, brick structure with a dome roof; it is likely to extend below as a cone shape in common with other similar structures. It is embedded within a bank on the south side of East Dene’s principal drive. The 1997 survey identified a round-arch entrance passage on its south side; not accessible during the site visit (2023). It was also suggested in 1997 that there may be an access hole in the top of the brick dome; this feature was not observed during the most recent visit.

The top of the north and west sides of the icehouse, and part of its domed roof, are visible. The bricks are arranged with the headers facing outwards. The exposed section has been subject to damage and the loss of some of the brickwork. A large hole has exposed a rendered inner wall and evidence of a narrow cavity between it and the other wall; cavity walls were sometimes used in icehouses for additional insulation with the walls rendered to deal with condensation. The interior was not accessible.


The house known as East Dene was built in around 1825 to 1826, on the site of the Bonchurch Farm. It was built for William H Surman and designed by Samuel Beazley. The 42-acre estate of East Dene was sold at auction in 1833. An advertisement of the estate describes East Dene as ‘the most perfect bijou’ and details that the site as including ‘verdant lawns…scenic beauties …woodland scenery…shrubbery walks, fruitful plantations…American plants’. It also notes the existence of ‘the secluded hermitage and an icehouse’ within the ‘extensive gardens. (Maidstone and Kentish Journal Advertisement, 21 May 1833, 1). Another contemporary report, confirming the sale, describes the estate as ‘comprising the cottage residence erected in the Elizabethan style, commanding extensive views of the sea, the rocks, hills and cascades and containing numerous apartments, lawn, horticultural and other gardens, a range of conservatories, hot and succession houses, orchard, and land extending to the sea cliffs, lodge, stables, laundry, fruit house, gardeners; and fishermen’s cottages, farm-buildings and yard, coach house, stables and premises’ (Morning Herald, 12 July 1833, 4). These descriptions indicate that many aspects of the marine villa's landscape design have been in place since the ownership of W H Surman.

The estate was bought by Mr Cartwright in 1833. In 1836 the house was leased to Captain, later Admiral, Charles Henry Swinburne (1797-1877). He later purchased East Dene in 1841 and lived there with his family, including the poet and literary reviewer Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909), who spent his summers at the estate as a child. The Bonchurch Tithe Map (1843) depicts East Dene house and estate under his ownership. The house is shown at the end of a curving drive, the entrance of the drive is flanked by buildings which are the predecessors of East Dene Lodge and Turret House (former coach house). It shows the walled kitchen garden to the east with three compartments including an apsidal end, along with various surrounding buildings. In 1861 East Dene was for sale again. Adverts gave detailed descriptions of the site, including noting that a labourer’s cottage with a private bathing machine was located near the beach, possibly referring to the pair of cottages located by the shoreline. An undated catalogue plan shows the East Dene estate with a detailed depiction of the garden layout. Although the plan is undated, it is associated with the 1860s sales agent and appears to date to this sale (MP89). A shrubbery between the east side of the house and the walled garden is shown to include a series of winding paths, narrow bands of dense planting interspersed with more formal lines of planting. The First Edition Ordnance Survey (OS) Map (surveyed 1862-1863, published 1866, 1:2500) shows some of the details depicted on the sales plan.

In 1865 the estate was sold to John Snowden-Henry (1824-1896), Member of Parliament for South-East Lancashire and a magistrate. Snowden-Henry’s is understood to have had a strong interest in horticulture, with records of plant growing and forcing houses, greenhouses, bushes and shrubberies, and accounts of tropical plants on the estate during his ownership

In 1899 East Dene was sold to JE Gordon member of Parliament for Elgin and Nain. In 1904 the estate was bought to serve as a convent school run by the nuns of the Convent of the Sacred Heart. In 1949 East Dene was sold and the ownership of the estate began to be subdivided. The western side of the estate, including the main house, entrance lodge, coach house, pleasure grounds and half of the upper woodland became known as the Workers Travel Association Holiday House, East Dene. The east side of the estate, including the walled garden, surrounding buildings and east half of the upper woodland became part of Carrigdene Farm; many of the cottages, farm and garden buildings in this area have been converted to residential accommodation since the mid-C20. In 1979 East Dene house and its grounds were sold and became an educational activity centre. In 2020 the activity centre closed and it was sold in 2022.

The icehouse is located near the north-east corner of East Dene house. Its location is not depicted on historic mapping; however, an icehouse is referred to in the 1833 sales advert for the estate. The structure is buried within the bank which runs along the south side of the principal drive. Ice houses were frequently built into banks or topped with earth to improve insulation. East Dene house was extended in the 1850s at which point the new east wing was built close to the ice house’s south entrance. In 1997, during road widening, the icehouse was partially uncovered and a survey was undertaken of the visible remains.

Reasons for Listing

The icehouse approximately 6m north-east of East Dene house, Ventnor, Isle of Wight is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* dating to before 1840, it is a well-built brick structure.

* despite suffering some damage, the original structure survives relatively well, including most of the curving brick walls, rendered internal cavity wall, domed roof, and arched entrance.

Historic interest:

* the structure, which sits in close proximity to the main house, continues to illustrate well its historic functional role within the former estate.

Group value:

* it has strong group value as part of a marine villa estate ensemble, including East Dene house (listed Grade II*, NHLE 1224413), several other listed buildings (Grade II), and the registered landscape (Grade II, NHLE 1485242).

External Links

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