The Icehouse Story

There is an Icehouse at Prior Park Landscape Gardens in Bath. Luckily, the National Trust interpretation board tells me quite clearly that it is an Icehouse, otherwise I would never have guessed! I might have thought up my own explanation. It looks like some steps down into a tunnel or chamber, and I wonder where it leads. It’s barricaded off, of course, for Health and Safety reasons, so no one can go in.

What is the Icehouse for? Well, how did they manage before fridges were invented? The servants used to get ice from the lake and store it in this underground chamber, and cart it up the steep hill to the house, and it was used to keep food cool.


You don’t need ice to keep food cool, people had larders, cupboards in North facing walls of the house, convenient for the kitchen. Didn’t the ice melt carting it up to the main house, or did they have an early version of a refrigerated van in those days too?

Many stately homes have icehouses. The icehouses often have geometric layouts, domes and tunnels, and it seems the one in Bath has a tunnel. Old maps show “subterranean passage” marked near the Icehouse.

From Wikipedia:

“Bruce Walker, an expert on Scottish vernacular buildings, has suggested that the relatively numerous and usually long ruined ice houses on country estates have led to Scotland’s many legends of secret tunnels.”

So what is the Icehouse story covering up? Underground chambers, geometric layouts, secret underground passageways, and cleverly concealed entrances. And always found at the homes of the elite, particularly in Scotland. It doesn’t sound like something to do with storing food. It sounds a lot more like Satanic ritual.

We are led to interprete history a certain way through various interpretation devices. Any managed historical site will have leaflets and interpretation boards telling you exactly how to think. TV programmes, newspapers and the education system give a constant stream of it. The Roman Baths like you to go round with a phone like device which speaks to you constantly as you are guided step by step round the place, making sure that you pick up nothing from your own senses.

We could learn so much from our heritage sites, but only if we interpret them freely ourselves.

I have recently looked in my local Church Graveyard (with no apparent graves) and seen what looks and feels remarkably like a long barrow. Yet the official story is that it is a spoil heap from the mines. Noone questions the official story despite there being no other spoil heaps around. And the Church is surely rich enough to remove a spoil heap if they wanted to. Interestingly, some Stately home icehouses are tunnel shaped and resemble long barrows.

A site on the Lower Bristol Road in Bath starts to remind me of the ruins of Abbey when I stop focussing on the official story of industrial heritage, and just allow my mind to be free.

The Bath Standing Stones are officially referred to as part of an old racecourse, even though they look and feel exactly like standing stones. A memorial woodland has been planted and now grown up around them so they are barely visible from the footpath. The land is owned by the National Trust, who must have given their permission for this concealment.

It’s not just history that is interpreted for us. Everything is. Our present and our future as well as our past. The interpretation is a layer that blocks us from the truth. But you don’t have to go along with it. It’s a choice. You can trust the official versions or you can trust yourself.

(See also earlier posts: The Golden Circus, Round Tables, The Bath Standing Stones, Don’t Believe What You Read, I Am The Truth, Possibility Theory)

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6 Responses to The Icehouse Story

  1. amosouldeer says:

    Some tunnels have “deeper” implications &/or explanations:

  2. dognamedblue says:

    I was following a link from “the tap” [I have you on my blog list on my page] for a piece on the co-op & was wondering if you’d ever seen the co-op’s banking headquarters in stockport? must be the largest one in europe šŸ˜‰

  3. dave says:

    I was also following a link from the tap, and thought you might want to look at the co;op in more detail.The co-op is one of the labour parties biggest backers try over 7 milliion pounds of donations in the past ten years and at present they support over 29 labour mp s in parliment.

  4. suliwebster says:

    Thanks for the info. I am getting increasingly alarmed by the COOP! They have also just taken over the Phone COOP. I don’t know if that was ok before, but I suspect it no longer is. They are really no different from any of the others, but they give the appearance that they are. The choice is not between one bank or another. It’s between banks or not banks. It’s not between one supermarket or another, one political party or another. These choices are so superficial. But they have us running around spending lots of time deciding and switching. There are even companies to help you compare and switch!
    I have also noticed the COOP (A coop is a sort of enclosure, like a chicken coop, cooped up) branching out into insurance, holidays etc etc over the years. Anyone disengaged with the more obvious monopolies can go to the Coop!
    As I live right next to a Coop shop, and I bank with them, and now get my Internet off them too, I am in a good position to look into it more.
    I have also noticed that cooperative is a bit like corporative.

  5. amosouldeer says:

    “We have ways of making you COOPerate…!” šŸ™‚

  6. suliwebster says:

    Thanks for the link amosouldeer. I wrote a piece a while back along similar sort of lines, sparked by some rediscovered writing of my very young son. It increasingly seems to me that children know all sorts of things in their first years of life that are eliminated from their frame of mind as they spend longer in our society. By literally placing a “frame” around the allowed thoughts.

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