Church in the landscape
Ickworth Church is a 13th-century building set in an 18th-century landscaped park, standing on an historic route and in important sight lines from the house.
Ickworth Church is a Grade II*-listed building located in Grade II*-registered Ickworth Park, an undulating landscape dissected by the valley of the River Linnet in its southern part. The church is the earliest building in the park, and the only reminder of the earlier parish of Ickworth, which included a medieval manor house and village.
The church is located to the south-west of Ickworth House, started by the Earl-Bishop in 1795, and near the 1st Earl's summerhouse and walled garden. The park lies within a Special Landscape Area, as designated by Suffolk County Council. The geology of the site is Cretaceous Upper Chalk covered by boulder clay.
From at least the 13th century, a manor house stood to the east of the church, and you can clearly see its foundations as parch marks on the aerial view of Ickworth Church. The manor house was originally a timber-framed hall, transformed by brick additions in the 16th century, and eventually demolished in around 1710.
The location of Ickworth's parsonage is not clear, but by 1706 it had been lost to fire. In 1712, when the parish was united with that of Chedburgh, it was decided that Ickworth parish was too small to warrant rebuilding the parsonage. Instead, materials from it were used in the repair of Chedburgh parsonage. One historical reminder of its existence is the pond between Ickworth House and church, which is today known as Parson's Pond.
Originally the church would have served a small village, the buildings and farms of which became part of the park in the early 1700s. Though the village's exact location is not known, it may have been on Ickworth Green, near present-day Ickworth Lodge, where most of the 17th-century farms were located. Alternatively an earlier, possibly Saxon village may have been situated near the church. The scant population figures available suggest that the number of households peaked in the 13th century but subsequently declined, and it was later deserted.
Between 1700 and 1731, John Hervey, the 1st Earl of Bristol, turned the agricultural land at Ickworth into a landscape park. The tenants were resettled in Horringer village and the remaining houses and farm buildings demolished. Rights to common land were relinquished and agricultural boundaries grassed over. Surviving features of the 1st Earl's park near the church are the brick summerhouse, brick wall piers, and the Canal Lake. Today the church is an important element of the park, located on an historic route and featuring in several key views and sight lines, including from the walled garden and canal towards the house.