History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
Whatever his qualities as a spritual leader, the Earl Bishop was certainly a reknown traveller, traversing Europe and amassing a quite remarkable collection of art and antiquities. Over 30 years of travel he amassed a huge collection of art, and he wanted to create a classically Italian setting to display his collection on his family estates in Suffolk.
Designs were drawn up by an Italian architect named Mario Asprucci the Younger, then adapted to the English climate by Francis Sandys. The house was begun in 1795, but much of the Earl's collection was seized by Napoleon's troops in 1798. The Earl spent the rest of his life trying unsuccessfully to gain the return of his art. In the meantime, work on Ickworth House continued. It was never intended to be a home, but a gallery to show off the Earl's art and fine furniture.
The family lived full time in the East Wing, and the rotunda and West Wing were kept under cover, only being used for occasional entertaining. And that was the saving grace of Ickworth, for since the main state rooms in the rotunda and the guest bedrooms in the West Wing were hardly ever used, they have remained in excellent condition, a testament to the wealth - and eccentricity - of the man who created them. Even his own wife thought Ickworth a 'stupendous monument of folly'.
The house interiors include paintings by Velazquez, Titian, Kauffman, Reynolds, and Gainsborough. In addition, a considerable collection of fine Georgian silver, Regency furniture, and porcelain is on display.
Ickworth boasts some superlative gardens, set in a parkland designed by Capability Brown. Set in the park are a summer house, vineyard, a canal, and lake, as well as a special enclosure for deer to wander. Visitors can enjoy a variety of marked paths through the park and woodlands surrounding Ickworth, and wander down the hill to the medieval church, standing like an island amid the open spaces of the park..
Fee charged. National Trust members free.
About Ickworth House
Address: Horringer, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, England, IP29 5QE
Attraction Type: Historic House
Location: 3 m SW Bury St. Edmonds, Suffolk, on A143
Website: Ickworth House
Phone: 01284 735 270
National Trust - see also: National Trust memberships (official website link)
OS: TL816 611
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
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Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low-exceptional) on historic interest
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