Saturday 14 August 1993
The Rivendell Trust, Greystones, Kendal Road, Kirkby Lonsdale, Carnforth, Lancashire LA6 2HN, telephone 05242 72601.
Lee Manor House, at Lee, in South- east London, now a public library and park, and (right) a sketch of its ice-house, which the Lee Manor Society and the Lewisham Environment Trust want to restore so that it can be visited by the public.
The Grade II listed ice-house, which was built in 1830 near the manor house, was an early form of refrigeration - most large households had one up until the First World War - where food was preserved during the summer months. Alexander the Great had ice-houses built during his campaigns in the fourth century BC and they are first mentioned in England during the 17th century, when some were built in Upper St James's Park, now Green Park, in London.
The brick-built ice-house and tunnel worked on simple but effective principles: earth was scooped from a nearby pond and thrown over the building for insulating purposes while, during the winter, ice was taken from the pond and packed into the well, placed at the deepest point, where it would keep for up to two years. In the adjoining chambers, towards the entrance, fruit and vegetables from the orchards and kitchen gardens, and other perishables, were kept fresh. Ice-houses fell into disuse at the advent of the home refrigerator, which was first seen in the United States during the 1920s and then spread to Europe.
The Lee Manor Society, a conservation group founded in 1975 to protect the buildings in the Lee Manor Conservation Area, has successfully campaigned to have certain houses and a telephone box listed, has advised over the rebuilding of Lee Manor railway station's ticket office and has donated money towards replanting lime trees in Micheldever Road, after the October storms in 1987.
The society has joined forces with Lewisham Environment Trust, a voluntary organisation aiming to improve Lewisham borough's environment: they have planning permission to build a new entrance and steps down to the ice-house, and to restore the inner chambers. The project will cost about pounds 25,000, and so far the Heritage of London Trust has promised pounds 5,000. For further information, contact: Charles Batchelor, Lee Manor Society, 14 Southbrook Road, Lee, London SE12 8LQ, telephone 081-690 6180.
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