Rycote Park Ice House

Donald Insall Associates, Oxfordshire, 2016


Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in


Thomas Erskine (website)     Download Original

  • Location plan    
  • Site plan    
  • Existing plan    
  • Proposed plan    
  • Proposed rafter plan    
  • Proposed section and elevation    
  • Rycote Ice House, before works    

Restoration of the Ice House at Rycote Park to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Capability Brown's birth

The Rycote Ice House forms part of Capability Brown's landscaping of the Park at Rycote, Oxfordshire, and has been restored to commemorate the 300th anniversary of his birth.

The ice house was concealed within a mound under a great quantity of vegetation, mostly annual weeds, and it rapidly became apparent that parts of the original design had been lost: the covered passage leading to the Ice House vault was missing in its entirety, as was the outer door to the passage.

The architects proposed to enhance the character of the setting by taking archaeological information from the site and from other Ice Houses by Capability Brown to reconstruct the structure in its intended form.

The proposals added a new porch to reinstate the original design for an ice house, built on top of the original brick foundations discovered during preliminary excavations. The new brick gable end to the porch which forms the new entrance uses a stone capped stepped top to match the details of Rycote House. A new oak timber frame, using timber sourced from the estate, provides the roof structure for a thatched roof.

The completed Ice House provides a positive contribution to the setting of the Grade I-listed chapel adjacent. Removing the earth mound has not only removed the risk of root damage to the historic construction but also allows better future maintenance and highlights the significance of the building and the site to passers-by.

This building is intended to be appreciated, first as an object within a designed landscape, and second as a restored building which can be visited and interpreted by the visitor via the interpretation panel which has been installed on site.


  • Completed: Sep 2016
  • Floor area: 16m2
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Total cost: £100,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Address: Rycote Park Ice House, Rycote Park, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 2PE, United Kingdom