A few hundred yards south west of Ickworth House, the 18th Century mansion formerly owned by the Marquises of Bristol, lies what was once the estate's walled kitchen garden. The five acre plot, which surrounds the 1st Earl of Bristol's summerhouse, built in 1703, once needed twenty six gardeners to tend its various crops. Table Grapes were grown here in Victorian times and dozens of grape storing bottles were kept on the shelves in the summerhouse. Filled with charcoal water, they would keep grapes fresh until January! Who needs supermarkets when you can go to the kitchen garden for your fresh produce; there had been three large greenhouses on the plot (long since gone) in which were grown exotic fruit such as melons and pineapples.
The National Trust took over the house in 1956 but in 1995 - the Trust's centenary year - the walled garden returned to the cultivation of grapevines when Charles and Jillian Macready (along with family and friends) planted 2.5 acres of vines, this time with the emphasis on the production of fine English wine. The south facing slope of the walled garden provides a sheltered and idyllic setting for the only commercial vineyard on National Trust land.