Underground Ice House

The entrance to the underground ice house

The entrance to the underground ice house (Photo credit: Burton Manor Gardens Facebook Page)

History of the Ice House

The ice house is a Grade II listed building in Burton, Cheshire. It served Burton Hall, built for the family of Richard Congreve circa 1805. Being underground it maintained a steady low temperature for ice collected from Burton Mere and stored in straw prior to use in the house. It was no longer needed for the remodelled Manor, as imported block ice was then used in the larders.

Restoration of the Ice House

The ice house was renovated in 2011 with funds provided by the Friends of Burton Manor and with the efforts of their team of volunteers. It is an important example of a late, rock cut ice house with all its original features intact with the exception of the doors. The inclusion of gas lighting is a rare feature and the fittings survive well. Also unusual is the presence of a food preparation area incorporated in the design. With an entrance either end, a barrel-vaulted ceiling and a draining well, our ice house is now home to three species of bat.

Natterer's bat Myotis nattereri

Natterer’s bat Myotis nattereri (Photo credit: www.eurobats.org)

The Natterer’s Bat

A Natterer’s Bat has been spotted in Burton Manor’s ice house. The Natterer’s Bat (Myotis nattereri) is found across most of the continent of Europe, parts of the Near East and North Africa, but is considered rare in the United Kingdom. It has pale wings and brown fur tending to greyish-white on its underside.

In winter they hibernate singly or in groups in places like the ice house. The optimum hibernation temperature is 5 degrees Celsius and the temperature in the ice house was 7 degrees Celsius on a cold chilly morning in March.

In summer these bats roost in large numbers in churches, barns and tree holes, coming out just before sunset and hunting for food all night. The Natterer’s Bat has a pink pointed face and large ears. They are also called the red armed bats because their limbs are pale red seen through their wings. They like insects such as moths and beetles.