MEM22303 - Former cold store at White Rock Cottage (Building)


A possible grotto building into the banks of the stream to the north and below White Rock Cottage.

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Type and Period (2)

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Full Description

The building was visited by a member of the Somerset Industrial Archaeology Society in December 2012. The pair of subterranean chambers was examined and a sketch plan made. It was suggested the structure may be an ice house. [1] A possible grotto building into the banks of the stream to the north and below White Rock Cottage. It had a single barrel-vaulted chamber of stone rubble with stone flagstones, with two arched alcoves on the eastern side, probably accessed from the stream. In the 1840s or 50s it was modified to create a cold store, with a second vaulted chamber added to the west of the first and accessed by a doorway in the east wall. A small window faces onto the stream. New access was created via a flight of stone steps, with the northern alcove blocked and a wall built to vault-height across the original opening. Stone rubble piers were built in both chambers for benches or tables. [2,3] A reconstruction drawing of the building as it would have appeared in the 19th Century was commissioned in 2017. [4] A small subterranean building which is set into the riverbank below White Rock Cottage in Ashcombe, Simonsbath. It has been suggested to be an ice house (Burton 1994), a grotto (South West Archaeology 2015) or cold store. As part of wider landscape studies of the site, the stonework of the structure was cleaned in autumn 2016 and a detailed assessment of the fabric carried out, together with the examination of the building in terms of other comparator sites. The resulting report suggests that the subterranean building was built as a cold store, but that it almost certainly formed part of a coherent composition of practical buildings (along with White Rock Cottage, a gardeners’ store and a bridge) that formed a backdrop to one aspect of John Knight’s picturesque gardens in Ashcombe. The building – in its original form – would have appeared as a plain stone elevation with two arches visible, and two simple small rectangular windows below. Much of the elevation has been rebuilt, possibly as recently as 1952 following the flood disaster on Exmoor. [5]

Sources/Archives (5)

  • <1> Serial: Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society. 1973. Newsletter of the Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society. 3.
  • <2> Report: Green, T; Humphreys, C; Morris, B; Wapshott, E. 2012. White Rock Cottage, Simonsbath: Results of a desk-based assessment and historic building recording.
  • <3> Report: Green, T., Humphreys, C. Morris, B. and Wapshott, E.. 2016. White Rock Cottage, Simonsbath, Exmoor, Somerset: Revised desk-based assessment and historic building recording.
  • <4> Artwork: Faulkner, A.. 2017. White Rock Cottage, Simonsbath, c.19th Century. Pencil.
  • <5> Report: Blaylock, S. and Bonvoisin, S.. 2016. Ashcombe 'Grotto', Simonsbath: A detailed assessment of the fabric and discussion of comparator sites.



Grid reference SS 7734 3941 (point)
Map sheet SS73NE

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Record last edited

Nov 19 2019 4:44PM


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