The ice house has been restored recently, with the entrance cleared of debris and remedial work carried out to the brickwork. Since the work was completed it is open to the public on selected Sunday afternoons during the spring and summer months.
The entrance to the ice house is through a narrow passage which opens into the ice chamber. Its purpose was to provide cold storage and ice for the Taylor family, the owners of Moseley Hall. Before invention of the refrigerator the only way to obtain ice was to use that which formed naturally in cold weather in the winter, and also snow. Ice was collected from the nearby lake and poured by the barrow load into the deep chamber. The surface of the ice was then covered by sacking, straw or other insulating materials to help keep it cold and frozen.
It is estimated that up to 20 tons of ice could be accommodated and the space above would provide the cold storage where food could be stacked on the surface of the ice or hung from hooks in the roof. Before the invention of the domestic refrigerator in the early 20th century most people were limited to eating seasonal foods or those preserved by drying, salting or pickling. However from the 17th century, the rich and privileged increasingly built ice houses in the grounds of their large houses, and sometimes actually within town houses, to preserve food and to provide ice for to cool wine and other drinks. It is estimated that some 3,000 ice houses were built in Britain, the majority during the period 1750 – 1875. Most fell into disuse with the development of the refrigerator and the decline of large country estates, although in some isolated places ice houses continued in use even into the 1940’s.