Historic rotunda set for return to 1900s heyday

HUNDREDS of thousands of pounds is to be spent refurbishing the basement of an iconic Suffolk building.

The National Trust wants to return the kitchen and domestic area of the Ickworth Rotunda to its 1900s glory days.

For hundreds of years the Ickworth estate, near Bury St Edmunds, was the family home of the Hervey family until it passed to the National Trust in the 1950s.

The trust has now appointed architects for the scheme to refurbish the “below stairs” parts of the neoclassical rotunda.

Conservation architects RH Partnership will take the lead in designing the scheme and Killby and Gayford Ltd has been awarded the building contract.

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Work on the basement, which is a key part of the Ickworth Lives project, is now under way.

Ickworth Lives has been paid for by the Heritage Lottery Fund. Once complete, visitors will get an insight into the lives of estate servants and staff of the eccentric Hervey family.

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Nigel Houghton, buildings surveyor for the National Trust in the east of England, said: “This is a really exciting project for Ickworth, and the National Trust, so it was important to find the right people to work with to deliver it.

“RH Partnership has excellent credentials. We have appointed Killby and Gayford Ltd to undertake the work. They have a proven track record in sympathetic restoration, so I am confident that Ickworth Lives will be a fantastic experience for visitors, come next summer.”

The contract for the Ickworth Lives project is worth �745,000.

Works which started in July have been undertaken to remove much of the modern intrusions and changes to the building made in the latter part of the 20th century.

A National Trust spokeswoman said: “The building is slowly being returned to its form of the early 1900s, a time when the Hervey family entertained in high style.

“It’s during this time that hi-tech domestic arrangements and technology were installed to cater for these lavish requirements.”

Richard Bell, director at Killby and Gayford, said: “Our track record of working on listed and historic buildings is ideally suited to this prestigious project, which will greatly enhance one of the finest stately homes in Suffolk.”

Work in the basement should be completed next summer.

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