200-year-old ice house discovered underground in London tells of forgotten times

200-year-old ice house discovered underground in London tells of forgotten times

England is steeped in history, and it has been witness to many different civilizations for thousands of years. A country that has seen many battles over its land, it’s history has filled many books and continues to do so. There have been great historical discoveries in the country, and these have offered an insight into many diverse eras throughout time. The countries capital, London, has existed for 2000 years after being founded by the Romans, to which they named it Londinium, the capital of Britannia. London is today is known as a very important city, as well as desirable, with many people emigrating there. Key finds are still being made today and when an area in London began renovation works in a historical location, no-one could have guessed they would make such a discovery.

 

Renovation Plans

In many of the historical places around the world, in particular, in England, there comes a time where a renovation project will be initiated to ensure that the area can remain in all its ancient glory, but with a slight modification. There was a precise location in the London area that was no different.

Renovation Plans

A team of some of the best archaeologists was set to work and it is safe to say that they never expected to stumble across something so telling and fascinating, right there, in the middle of this popular location.

Past Time

A structure, that would offer details of the city’s history, that was never known before now and one that offered an insight into a time that people had forgotten.

Past Time

Captivating parts of history, that the world could now appreciate and what they found was truly extraordinary, that dated back to the 18th-century when London was a very different place to what it is today.

Expanding The City

Today, the English capital thrives with tourists and commuters, however back in the 18th century, it was extremely different as the Industrial Revolution began to take shape.

Expanding The City

The British Empire was expanding, and London was the epicenter. Was it at this time that this outstanding structure was lost underground as they built over it?

Creating One Kingdom

It was during this time, that many landmark events were bought together. In 1706, for the first time in history, unity brought both England and Scotland together as part of the United Kingdom.

Creating One Kingdom

Although the same monarch had ruled over both countries, they were separate kingdoms and were led by separate parliaments. But how did this connect with the find?

Buiding Britain

London began to flourish, and it was in 1710, that the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral was completed by architect Christopher Wren.

Buiding Britain

Politically, the city was also changing for the better and new areas were being built such as the renowned Mayfair estate. Bridges were built for easier access to the city but whilst all of this was happening, there was something happening that went unnoticed.

Wealth Divide

There on the ground, there was a rapidly growing class divide, that continued to grow as time went on. For those of wealth, the time was an exciting one where they could enjoy lavish homes and attend the opera.

Wealth Divide

For those where money didn’t come easy, it was a completely different story and this is where their discovery would have been in use.

Machines Took Over

For those living with much less money, their lifestyle couldn’t have been more different. Basic food that could only be enjoyed in rations, small houses that belong to big families, where most beds accommodated for four or five people.

Machines Took Over

With the Industrial Revolution taking over, many lost their jobs to machines and it was at that time, things took a turn.

Ice House

A usual fact is that during this time, a loophole was found in a job that still required a man and not a machine to do the job.

Ice House

Although it is something we barely think about nowadays, ice, yes ice, was extremely hard to come by around the world, so much so that there was a time when only the Royals were able to enjoy it, and this is what the discovery taught them.

Below The Surface

It was King James I who issued the order of England’s first ice house, which was located in Greenwich Park, London.

Below The Surface

The ice house was a cold, underground storage spot where the ice could be kept and remain frozen as well as food to ensure it remained edible. Built before the surface, the stone walls remained cold and work perfectly as an ice house.

Advanced Technology

The invention of the ice house became an advocate of technology and it wasn’t long until another was built in Upper St. James’s Park or better known as Green Park.

Advanced Technology

The ice houses began to inspire poetry for famous writers like Edmund Waller and enabled the rich people to impress their friends with ice-cold refreshments. But while the rich were appreciating this new method, some were suffering.

Upper-Class Life

During the 18th-century, the construction of ice house sored. The richer people of London wanted in on what the Royals were having access too and they began to build ice houses of their own on their ever-growing estates.

Upper-Class Life

As word spread amongst the upper classes, this began to create work for those of the lower class, of course, someone needed to build and maintain the ice houses but what happened to those that did?

Bigger Business

As ice became more readily available, it quickly became a booming business with many seeing it could be used for much more than cooling refreshments at dinner parties.

Bigger Business

Demand for ice grew within medical institutions as it was quickly recognized as a local anesthetic to numb an area on the body. Due to the rise in demand, it became apparent that the small ice houses needed to be much bigger.

Historic Find

A central location was needed, where large amounts of ice could be stored for business purposes and it was during the most recent renovation, that this forgotten era was found.

Historic Find

With London’s rapid growth and modernization through the years, the times of the ice houses were long forgotten but their discovery was nothing less than incredible.

Let The Work Commence

Assigned to a job to redevelop the area of Regent’s Park, the archaeologists were educated on the area that was once designed by John Nash, the man who became famous after designed Buckingham Palace.

Let The Work Commence

As with all restoration projects, extensive research has to take place to ensure the old buildings are left with their former glory, but somehow, they managed to miss a major part.

Historical Moment

As the work began on the gardens, it was there beneath a stunning green lawn, set back behind the houses that it was discovered.

Historical Moment

As the area had been built upon and the older houses knocked down and vanished into the past, the ice house that once lay in the estate was still intact, right there below the surface of the ground.

Different To The Others

The archaeologists were astounded to find such a huge unlisted and unnoticed structure, there in the middle of a busy location, and one that went on to reveal a secret about the acclaimed capital.

Different To The Others

The specific find unearthed in Marylebone at Regent’s Crescent answered many questions about the history of London. This was an ice house like no other.

Why Didn’t Anyone Know?

The majority of the ice house on the estates were small and only allowed the space to provide for one or two families but what they found, was much bigger, but for what reason and why wasn’t is documented?

Why Didn’t Anyone Know?

The exciting thing was, that now, they had a historical building to explore and they would be the first ones to see the hidden gem.

Wondering Around

Assisted by experts, the team began their exploration of the site and found it was the earliest commercial ice house that had ever been discovered.

Wondering Around

The ice house was also one of the biggest they had ever found and as they examined the site, they were more than excited about it.

The Process

The team would soon understand that the ice house was constructed for a man named Samuel Dash, who was heavily involved in the alcohol industry at the time.

The Process

The water was sourced from nearby canals, and frozen inside the ice house. Workers would then have to check and filter through the ice removing any unwanted entities from the canal.

Booming Trade

As the 19th-century beckoned, the ice trade exploded and the drifting waters of the canals were not providing enough water, and that which it did provide was soon considered too dirty for commercial use.

Booming Trade

It was William Leftwich who then began to import blocks of ice from Norway where he would then store it in this exact ice house.

Ice Business

As the ice business continued to spiral, Leftwich knew he needed to import more at one time, and on one occasion he loaded 300 tons of ice onto his vessel and traveled up and along the Regent’s canal, landing him directly at Dash’s ice house.

Ice Business

There, via access through an opening at the top, he would lower the blocks inside. What about breaking the ice down?

Stood Strong During The War

The underground house would keep the ice frozen until an order needed to be sent out, and that is where the workers would enter the house and begin to chip away and the ice, breaking into small pieces.

Stood Strong During The War

Standing 31-feet-deep and 24-feet wide, the structure withstood the bombings of the war and then the archaeologists began the excavation.

Insight Into A Different Time

The ice house gave historians access to a forgotten time of the ice trade and shed light on how the process happened and why.

Insight Into A Different Time

Although there are many ice houses that became famous for those they served, this find was the biggest they had ever come across and provided answers as to how personal and commercial ice houses operated.