The weekend before last I spent three nights staying near Bury St Edmunds at a National Trust cottage on the Ickworth Estate. A friend and I stopped to visit Ely Cathedral on our journey down from Yorkshire on Friday; we visited Bury St Edmunds Cathedral and The Moyses Hall Museum on Saturday and our plan for Sunday was to walk The Ickworth Grand Tour Walk. The IGTW is a seven mile walk that begins at the NT car park. In our case, we could begin it from our Horringer Park Gates front door.
Horringer Park Gates at Ickworth Main Entrance
In my National Trust Walks : East Anglia book the walk begins in the NT car park. However, being occupants of the Lodge we joined it from our back door. The clearly marked path disappeared into Adkin’s Wood opposite the house.
The park and woodland were worked on by Capability Brown in the 1770s but before that it had been a deer park since the 13th century. The NT are currently working on the woodland, felling older trees to allow some light into areas and encourage more of the undergrowth and wildlife. There are both mature and young trees – oak, ash, sycamore, cedar, sweet chestnut, and laurel. Apart from nature conservation, timber and firewood production thatching spars, pea sticks, and walking sticks are produced.
The Fairy Lake
Our route took us past The Fairy Lake and nearby Round House (not quite a miniature version of Ickworth’s Rotunda) which is also a holiday let. Finally, I had my first view of The Main House – Ickworth Rotunda – across the fields.
The Round House
Ickworth Church Tower on the left and Rotunda on the right
At just about the furthest point from the Main Entrance is the Monument, or Obelisk.
It stands on the second highest piece of land in Suffolk and is dedicated to memory of the Earl Bishop and was paid for by the people of Londonderry.
We continued along through woods and occasional open landscape until we came to a crossroads of paths. Here we diverted from the Grand Tour route to visit the church and see the Rotunda close up. We passed the manmade ‘canal’ and arrived at the church, the oldest building on the estate.
The Church, Canal and Earl’s Summerhouse
The Ickworth Church Conservation Trust now care for the building and, with the help of grants, it was restored during 2012-13 and is now once again open to the public. A leaflet describes the main treasures, namely the 13th century stone font; an unusual double piscina; Flemish roundels in the 16th and 17th century windows; Hervey family memorial stones; a 14th century wall painting and the painted roof over the Hervey pews (no public access).
The Double Piscina
The Flemish Roundels
Roundel Close Up
14th Century Wall Painting
Painted Roof Above Hervey Pew
Gilded Dove Tops the Font Cover
From St Mary’s Church it’s a short walk to the House (Rotunda). There were no house tours that day but we did walk round the Italianate Garden. One wing of Ickworth is a smart hotel and the other looked to be the NT cafe but we decided to complete our walk and have a late lunch of cheese on toast back at our cottage.
The Rotunda from the Italianate Garden
We retraced our steps back to the church and took a longish loop path alongside the River Linnet at the very end of this track where the path turns back towards the house and car park is Mordaboy’s Cottage with its thatched roof and topiary style fox and hare. You can just make them out in the photo below.
Finally, we joined the main drive and walked back to our cosy digs. It was time to put our feet up after about a 9 mile walk. But at least it was level and there were plenty of features in the landscape to attract our interest.