- Free entry with National Art Pass.
- View venue & entry details
Ickworth's striking Neoclassical façade dominates the Suffolk countryside outside Bury St Edmunds.
The central rotunda and curved corridor at Ickworth
With over 1,800 acres of parkland designed by Capability Brown, the house and its grounds were created as an homage to Italy, the country so beloved by Frederick Augustus Hervey, the 4th Earl of Bristol. The Earl-Bishop spent his life travelling the continent, gathering together a vast collection of paintings, sculpture and artefacts. Already possessed of several houses, he conceived Ickworth primarily as a museum for his treasures. At his death only the Rotunda - the giant circular structure at the centre of the two wings, described by Hervey's wife as 'a stupendous moment of Folly' - was nearing completion. The house was eventually finished by his son.
Although Hervey's treasures, confiscated during the French invasion of Italy, were destined never to occupy Ickworth, his descendants made it their life's work to rebuild what has become an exceptional collection of art and silver. Paintings housed in the galleries include works by Velázquez, Titian and Poussin, while the collection of 18th-century portraits of the family is exceptionally fine, featuring canvases by Gainsborough, Reynolds, Vigée-Lebrun and Hogarth. In addition to one of the very best British collections of Georgian Huguenot silver, Ickworth is also home to an impressive array of Regency furniture, porcelain, and domestic objects.
Art Funded works
Jacob More made a career of producing idealised Italian landscapes. His Landscape with Classical Figures, Cicero at his Villa, painted in 1780 and funded in 1993, is a typical work, the misty soft-focus and pastel light adding to its appeal.
Hugh Douglas Hamilton's The Earl Bishop of Bristol and Derry Seated before the Prospect of Rome shows Hervey seated at what is thought to be the southern tip of the Borghese Gardens.
Ickworth's parklands and gardens can provide a day's activity in their own right. The south gardens are modelled on the formal Italian style, while the gardens to the west of the house are more informal. Visitors can walk or cycle out into the park itself and up to the Fairy Lake.
Bright and modern, The West Wing Restaurant overlooks the gardens and can be guaranteed to catch any sunlight on offer. It serves everything from hot meals to snacks, and at weekends the restaurant is open for breakfast. If you're after something rather more formal, try Frederick's restaurant at Ickworth Hotel in the grounds.
Art we've helped buy at Ickworth House, Park and Gardens
Free entry with National Art Pass (standard entry charge is £12.50)
For seasonal opening hours, check the Ickworth House website
Parkland, woods and children's playground open daily, dawn – dusk