The Ickworth Rotunda: “A Stupendous Monument of Folly”

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After touring the amazing Victorian kitchen, and enjoying the beautiful simplicity of the servants’ quarters of the Ickworth house, it was time to go upstairs and see what it was all about. Talk about a study in contrasts! We climbed the staircase, and came into this amazing hallway. There were three stories, with the glass ceiling so high up!
This was also a great foyer, where the stairs come up to and where the front door of the rotunda are. Some volunteers greeted us and hooked Amelia up with a guide of things to look for in each room. I’ll be honest– this sort of thing would have bored me to tears at her age! But she was really into it, which is just one more reason to love this kid.
From here, we visited the library. We had a library in my house as a kid… But it didn’t look quite like this.

I couldn’t help noticing that the designs on the walls match the color palette of the gorgeous antique books.

From the library, we went into the drawing room.
So many wonderful paintings!
I loved looking out the windows, seeing what are likely a very similar views to those seen by the Ickworth guests. By the way, the building slightly hidden in the picture above on the right was the house actually lived in by the Herve family (now converted into the Ickworth Hotel.)  The rotunda we’re touring was the guest quarters and place to host parties! Views out the front of the house:

Next, we visited the extravagant dining room. Look at that chandelier!I also loved all of the portrait paintings.Back out in the main hallway, I snooped around but found that all of the bedrooms had been “put to bed,” with custom made slipcovers put over every piece of furniture. This was one of my favorite paintings there.
There were also a couple of rooms showcasing collections of interesting things– alas, the lighting was too dim for any good pictures. But I loved the color of this room!
I have to tell you, it was very surreal to be in what I imagine as the perfect setting for a Jane Austen novel! It was so ornate and beautiful– and so over the top! We had to take a picture to prove that we were really there…I have one more post about the Ickworth house coming… But now that you’ve seen both upstairs and down, which one would you choose to live in? (Job descriptions and social standing aside, of course!)

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15 Responses to The Ickworth Rotunda: “A Stupendous Monument of Folly”

  1. Kristen November 29, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    Wow, gorgeous! In May I visited The Biltmore House in North Carolina and the Ickworth reminds me so much of it… have you been to The Biltmore? It’s absolutely stunning and fantastic, and with wonderful servants quarters.

    Upstairs or downstairs? I dunno, I might have to go with upstairs – so much splendor! 🙂

    • Ariana Mullins December 19, 2012 at 3:38 pm #

      Hi Kristen! No, I haven’t been anywhere in N. Carolina– I would love to go back to the US, especially the East Coast and the South and visit as a tourist. There is so much to see!

  2. greatdana November 29, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    Be still my heart… I must compose myself. Great virtual tour, thanks!

  3. Rois November 30, 2012 at 1:46 am #

    I pick downstairs but with out all of the work the servants did.It looked cozy down stairs.

    • Ariana Mullins December 19, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

      I agree, Rois. I love the simplicity– it’s so easy on the senses.

  4. Elie November 30, 2012 at 11:27 pm #

    Definitely downstairs. It’s much more homey and cozy. I would feel too nervous upstairs on all that grandeur. But since it’s my fantasy, I would choose the leisure of upstairs with the style of downstairs with the cutest man in the house.

    • Ariana Mullins December 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      You’ve got it all figured out, Elie! Me too!

  5. Robin December 1, 2012 at 12:46 am #

    Upstairs upstairs upstairs!! I absolutely adore all the hoopla 🙂

    • Ariana Mullins December 19, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

      I would love to just go to ONE of those grand parties– I can hardly imagine how fun that would be! And the food, of course, would be incredible!

  6. Marisa December 8, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    Oh wow! This place is absolutely gorgeous! I’m getting caught up here after dealing with some stressful house matters and this is just the thing to calm me down. I adore British country houses – SO much! I really look forward to seeing some more National Trust sites. They do such a wonderful job of maintaining and showing their properties. And I have to say I am a real sucker for the National Trust shops. Just love those. I’ve looked into doing a working holiday through the National Trust before. Have you heard about those? you get to go and volunteer at National Trust properties and they put you up. Seems like a really fun opportunity. And I have to say I can really relate to Amelia. I would have loved a house tour like this at her age too. There were times when I was young that I really related more to older people than kids my own age because of the interests I had. A lot of the kids my age just weren’t interested in the same things I was. And LOVELY charming photo of you and Jeff in the mirror – I love that!

    • Ariana Mullins December 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

      Marisa, I will do my best to find and photograph as many as I can for you. This is the first one we’ve had the pleasure of visiting. And I am right there with you on all of the National Trust shops– they are the best! Just like I love shopping at museums! I love how these ones have lots of books about food, gardening, and traditional crafts. By the way, Marisa– are you an only child? I think this may have a lot to do with Amelia enjoying the kinds of things I would have been so bored by– she is so used to being taken to this kind of thing, and genuinely seems to enjoy everything we do!

  7. Tara January 5, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

    I must tell you how excited I am to find your blog! I absolutely love all the photos you shared. I lived in England for a short time and miss seeing properties like this one. Thank you!

  8. Susan Gaines March 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    Even though I love all things that glitter, I would prefer to live downstairs. Upstairs is beautiful, downstairs is peaceful.

  9. John Goldsmith December 6, 2015 at 10:31 pm #

    As a guide at Ickworth could I make some minor corrections/explanations? No criticism implied – one visit leaves an awful lot to take in.

    The family that built and lived at Ickworth (and this was their 3rd house in the 1800 acre park) were the Herveys, pronounced Harvey. The one that built the house was the 4th Earl of Bristol. His son was promoted to a Marquess. The 7th Marquess was the last of the family to live at the house (he was effectively evicted by the National Trust). The 8th Marquess currently lives elsewhere.

    The room you describe as the Library is in fact the Pompeian Room, and is based on the frescos found on a roman villa excavated in 1777.

    The Library is the biggest room, with just 2 walls – one straight, one curved. It’s the one in the pictures with the green silk furniture, and the piano. And that picture of a Spanish prince with a gun and dog, seen behind your selfie – it’s painted by Velasquez.

    That “Glass ceiling, so high up” is well short of the top of the building. There are 2 more stories above that before you get to the top of the dome. They are where the female servants lived (great view!) and are now used for offices and storage.

    The chandelier you comment on in the Dining Room was moved from their London house when that was sold in the 1930s. It is reputed to have damage from a First World War Zeppelin raid.

    So pleased that you photographed the beautiful young girl with the curly hair. Most visitors miss her – and her husband just down the corridor. Yes, she was engaged at 5, and married at 12. The picture shows her about 13 or 14 years old. Her husband, the Duke of Grafton, was an illegitimate son of King Charles II.

    If anyone reading this comes to the house on a Monday, keep a look out for room guide John. I’ll be happy to tell you all I know.

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