House Stewards Flat Rotunda,
Bury Saint Edmunds IP29 5QE,
Ickworth House is a country house near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, England. It is a neoclassical building set in parkland. The house is in the care of the National Trust.
You can trace Ickworth’s origins back to the Domesday book when it was merely one of hundreds of assets belonging to the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds. Its association with the Hervey family began three centuries later in 1432, when Thomas Hervey acquired the land by marriage. Through success and scandal, Ickworth was the family’s home for the next 500 years. Thomas’ descendants set about transforming the ancient deer-park into an aristocratic paradise. The modest medieval hall became a turreted Tudor mansion. In 1701 the 1st Earl demolished the mansion and developed plans for an even grander abode. He also renovated the church, where all Ickworth’s owners have been laid to rest. Residents of the tiny hamlet of Ickworth were rehoused in neighbouring Horringer, and their former dwellings demolished to make way for pasture. The next generation of Herveys made even more of an impact on the landscape.
The house was built between 1795 and 1829. The building was the creation of Frederick Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol and Bishop of Derry who commissioned the Italian architect Asprucci to design him a classical villa in the Suffolk countryside. The Earl died in 1803, leaving the completion of house to his successor.
In 1956, the house, park, and a large endowment were given to the National Trust in lieu of death duties. As part of the handover agreement, a 99-year lease on the 60-room East Wing was given to the Marquess of Bristol. However, in 1998 the 7th Marquess of Bristol sold the remaining lease on the East Wing to the National Trust. He was succeeded by his half-brother Frederick William Augustus Hervey, 8th Marquess of Bristol (born 19 October 1979). The National Trust refused to sell the remaining lease term back to the 8th Marquess, thereby contravening the Letter of Wishes which states that the head of the family should always be offered whatever accommodation he chooses at Ickworth.
The family's once private East Wing is now run as The Ickworth Hotel and apartments on a lease from the National Trust. The apartments are in Dower House which is in the grounds.
The West Wing at Ickworth House went uncompleted until 2006, when a joint partnership between the National Trust and Sodexo Prestige led to its renovation and opening as a centre for conferences and events. The first wedding in the property's history took place in 2006.
John, 1st Earl of Bristol (1665-1751) innherited the estate in 1700 he came to describe it as his ‘centre of rest... Sweet Ickworth'. He was created Baron Hervey of Ickworth in 1703 and was then elevated to an Earldom, choosing Bristol from a choice of titles. He lived at Ickworth Lodge, a converted farmhouse on the estate, (and now an annex to the Ickworth Hotel) and spent considerable time and money creating a park worthy of the Hervey name and on the patronage of artists – forming the basis of the collection today.
John Hervey, 2nd Baron Hervey (13 October 1696 – 5 August 1743), English courtier and political writer and memoirist, was the eldest son of John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol, by his second wife, Elizabeth. He was known as Lord Hervey from 1723, upon the death of his elder half-brother, Carr, the only son of his father's first wife, Isabella, but Lord Hervey never became Earl of Bristol, as he predeceased his father. He was a frequent visitor at the court of the Prince and Princess of Wales at Richmond, and in 1720 he married Mary Lepell, daughter of Nicholas Lepell, who was one of the Princess's ladies-in-waiting, and a great court beauty. Hervey was bisexual. He was married to Mary Lepell, but he had an affair with Anne Vane, and possibly ones with Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Princess Caroline. He lived with Stephen Fox often during the decade after he followed him to Italy in 1728. He wrote passionate love letters to Francesco Algarotti, whom he first met in 1736. He may have had a sexual affair with Prince Frederick before their friendship dissolved. He was also attracted to Henry Fox before his affair with Stephen Fox.
By her marriage with Mary Lepell he had eight children:
- Lady Mary Hervey, married 31 October 1745 George Fitzgerald, of Turlough
- Hon. George William Hervey, later 3rd Baron Hervey, later 2nd Earl of Bristol
- Lady Lepell Hervey (15 April 1723 – 11 May 1780), married 26 February 1742/3 Constantine John Phipps, 1st Baron Mulgrave, and had issue
- Hon. Augustus John Hervey, later 3rd Earl of Bristol
- Hon. Frederick Augustus Hervey, later 4th Earl of Bristol (and father of Lady Elizabeth Foster)
- Gen. Hon. William Hervey (born 13 May 1732), died unmarried
- Lady Amelia Caroline Nassau Hervey, died unmarried
- Lady Caroline Hervey, died unmarried
Molly Lepel (1697 – 1768) was former lady-in-waiting to Queen Caroline, praised by our finest writers such as Voltaire and Pope. "Bright Venus you never saw bedded So perfect a beau and a belle As when Hervey the handsome was wedded To the beautiful Molly Lepel" - Lord Chesterfield and William Pulteney, Earl of Bath. Her portrait can be found in bedroom of the Rotunda.
The flamboyant Hon. Frederick Augustus Hervey, 4th Earl of Bristol PC DD FRS (1 August 1730, Suffolk – 8 July 1803, Lazio), becoming the 4th Earl despite being a 3rd son, was known as the Earl Bishop. He puzzled and amazed his contemporaries, dressed top to toe in Episcopal purple he became one of the tourist sights of Europe, bowling around Italy in an open-topped carriage and staying in many 'Hotels Bristol' named in his honour. Mischievous but forward thinking, he was never a religious man and used his position as Bishop of Derry, secured for him by his brother, to dabble in politics, gain great wealth and annoy local vicars. He died in 1803 having had his life’s treasures and art confiscated by Napoleonic troops. It was the Earl Bishop whose vision created the house we know today. He married, in 1752, Elizabeth (*1733-02-01; †1800-12-19), daughter of Sir Jermyn Davers Bt MP, a great-granddaughter of Thomas, 2nd Baron Jermyn as well as being sister and heiress of Sir Charles Davers Bt MP (1737-1807).
By their marriage, Lord Bristol had four sons and three daughters:
- Lady Mary Caroline Hervey (1753–1842); married John Crichton, 1st Earl Erne.
- George (1755–1765); died of illness aged nine, at Spa, Belgium while the family was travelling.
- John "Jack" Augustus Hervey, Lord Hervey (1757–1796); Captain RN, married Elizabeth Drummond and predeceased his father, leaving issue one daughter (qv. Baron Seaford)
- Lady Elizabeth Christiana Hervey (1758–1824); longtime mistress and later second wife of William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire KG.
- Short-lived son (b. and d. 1761)
- Lady Louisa Theodosia Hervey (1767–1821); married Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool KG and Prime Minister (1812–27).
- Frederick Hervey, 1st Marquess of Bristol (1769–1859); styled by courtesy Lord Hervey after 1796.
When the Bishop Lord Bristol died in 1803, his son Frederick succeeded as 5th Earl of Bristol as well as to the family estates including Ickworth House. The title of Baron Howard de Walden however passed to his great-grandson Charles Ellis, son of the 1st Baron Seaford, son of The Hon. Elizabeth Hervey (only child of Jack, Lord Hervey).
The death of his father left Frederick William Hervey, 1st Marquess of Bristol (2 October 1769 – 15 February 1859) with a half-built house, an indebted estate. He managed to largely complete the house over the next twenty years whilst improving the estate. Knowing that impressive works of art would be needed for the great rooms of the newly-completed Rotunda and east ‘family’ wing, he set off on a tour of Europe in search of suitable treasures. Under his guidance Ickworth at last fully became the dynastic family seat it had always been intended to be. He was created 1st Marquess in 1826 by his brother-in-law and then Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool. He married Elizabeth Albana (1775–1844), daughter of Clotworthy Upton, 1st Baron Templetown and Elizabeth Templetown, by whom he had two daughters and six sons:
- Lady Augusta Hervey (died 17 March 1880)
- Lady Georgiana Elizabeth Charlotte Hervey (died 16 January 1869)
- Frederick Hervey, 2nd Marquess of Bristol (15 July 1800 – 30 October 1864), the great-great-grandfather of the present Marquess
- Major Lord George Hervey b. 25 Jan 1803, d. 1838
- Lord William Hervey (27 September 1805 – 6 May 1850), the grandfather of the heir presumptive to the marquessate
- Rt. Rev. Lord Arthur Hervey, Bishop of Bath and Wells (20 August 1808 – 9 June 1894)
- Rev. Lord Charles Amelius Hervey (1 November 1814 – 11 April 1880), cricketer and clergyman
- Lord Alfred Hervey (25 June 1816 – 15 April 1875)
Frederick William Hervey, 2nd Marquess of Bristol PC, FSA (15 July 1800 – 30 October 1864) married Lady Katherine Isabella Manners, daughter of John Manners, 5th Duke of Rutland, in 1830. They had four sons and three daughters:
- Hon. Elizabeth Frederica Hervey (1832? – 1 June 1856)
- Lady Mary Katharine Isabella Hervey (1833? – 1 August 1928)
- Frederick William John Hervey, 3rd Marquess of Bristol (28 June 1834 – 7 August 1907)
- Lord Augustus Henry Charles Hervey (2 August 1837 – 28 May 1875) married Mariana, née Hodnett (died 30 January 1920).
- Major Lord John William Nicholas Hervey (15 November 1841 – 25 February 1902)
- Lady Adeliza Georgiana Hervey (17 August 1843 – 7 November 1911)
- Lord Francis Hervey (16 October 1846 – 10 January 1931)
The Marchioness of Bristol died at 47 Eaton Place, London, on 20 April 1848, from smallpox, in childbed, aged 39. Lord Bristol remained a widower until his death at Ickworth House, Suffolk, on 30 October 1864, aged 64. He was succeeded in the marquessate by his eldest son, Frederick.
Frederick William John Hervey, 3rd Marquess of Bristol (28 June 1834 – 7 August 1907) married Geraldine Anson, a daughter of Maj.-Gen. Hon. George Anson, and they had two daughters. Lord Bristol died in 1907, and as he had no sons, he was succeeded by his nephew, Frederick Hervey.
Rear-Admiral Frederick William Fane Hervey, 4th Marquess of Bristol (1863–1951) was the son of Lord Augustus Henry Charles Hervey (1837–1875), the younger brother of the 3rd Marquess of Bristol. He married the heiress Alice Frances Theodora Wythes (1875–1957) in 1896. They had two daughters, Lady Phyllis Hervey and Lady Marjorie Hervey. Lord Bristol was succeeded by his youngest brother Lord Herbert Hervey.
Herbert Arthur Robert Hervey, 5th Marquess of Bristol (10 October 1870 – 5 April 1960) married twice:
- 19 October 1914 (divorced 1933), Lady Jean Alice Elaine Cochrane (d. 5 January 1955), daughter of the 12th Earl of Dundonald, and had one son, Victor Frederick Cochrane Hervey, 6th Marquess of Bristol.
- 15 December 1952, Dora Frances (died 27 March 1953), only daughter of George Marshall, and widow of Don Pedro de Zulueta.
Victor Frederick Cochrane Hervey, 6th Marquess of Bristol (6 October 1915 – 10 March 1985) led an extraordinary life earning the nickname 'Mayfair playboy No.1'. He joined a gang of ‘gentleman’ jewel thieves, and was convicted in 1939 on two counts of robbery from Mayfair addresses. He also dabbled in a degree of dubious arms sales. In contrast, his later life was one of extreme respectability, inheriting the title of 6th Marquess of Bristol in 1960 and becoming chairman of the Monarchist League. He married three times:
- At the age of 34, on 6 October 1949 (divorced 1959), Pauline Bolton, daughter of a Kent businessman; and had issue Frederick William John Augustus Hervey, 7th Marquess of Bristol (known as John), gaoled twice on drugs offences, died childless aged 44;
- At the age of 45, 23 April 1960, Lady Anne Juliet Dorothea Maud Wentworth Fitzwilliam, aged 25, only child of Peter Wentworth-FitzWilliam, 8th Earl FitzWilliam, with issue a son, Lord Nicholas Hervey, who was educated at Eton and Yale, was diagnosed with schizophrenia towards the end of his life, and died by his own hand aged 36, unmarried.
- At the age of 60, in 1974, Yvonne Marie Sutton, aged 29 and his private secretary, with issue Frederick Hervey, 8th Marquess of Bristol and the socialites and models Lady Victoria Hervey and Lady Isabella Hervey
Lord Bristol was alleged to have been a harsh father to his eldest son, according to friends of the latter. "He treated his son and heir with indifference and contempt," said Anthony Haden-Guest. The Marquess of Blandford summed up the relationship: "Victor created the monster that John became."
Frederick William John Augustus Hervey, 7th Marquess of Bristol (15 September 1954 – 10 January 1999), also known as John Jermyn and John Hervey, was a British aristocrat and businessman, notable for both his wealth and its use to fund his vices, which included drug addiction, illegal activity related to drugs, flamboyant homosexuality and dissipated lifestyle. The life of the 7th Marquess was as remarkable as his earlier forebears and equalled them in terms of his well-publicised private life and indulgence, surprising many with a brief marriage in the 1980s. Rumoured in the press to have blown a £21 million fortune, (and even more made as a business man), on vice and high living, the 7th Marquess sold much of his remaining family possessions and moved out of the East Wing at Ickworth in 1996. He was the last of the Hervey family to live at Ickworth and was succeeded by his half-brother Frederick as 8th Marquess of Bristol. In spite of a lifetime of homosexual relations, John married Francesca Fisher, then 20, just shy of his 30th birthday; it is not known whether they consummated their relationship. The marriage lasted for four years; they had no children. The 7th Marquess was described by his friend Jamie Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford, as a "complicated, reserved character, hiding behind a flamboyant personality".
Lord Frederick William Charles Nicholas Wentworth Hervey (26 November 1961–26 January 1998) was the only child born to the 6th Marquess of Bristol by his second wife (m. 1960) Lady Juliet Wentworth-FitzWilliam. Lord Nicholas's mother was the only child of the wealthy 8th Earl Fitzwilliam; she was 13 years old when her father died in a small aircraft crash that also killed his intended second wife Kathleen Cavendish, Marchioness of Hartington, sister of John F. Kennedy, in 1948. Lord Nicholas was a descendent of William the Conqueror on both his mother's and father's side. When Nicholas was 11 years old, his mother divorced his father and married his 60-year-old friend, Somerset de Chair (d. 1996), with whom she had a daughter, Helena de Chair, five years later. In 1996, she married a third time and is now known as Lady Juliet Tadgell. Lord Nicholas Hervey was found dead in his Chelsea flat at the age of 36, having hanged himself. He never married and had no issue. His half-brother, the 7th Marquess of Bristol, died less than a year later.
Frederick William Augustus Hervey, 8th Marquess of Bristol (born 19 October 1979) is a British peer. He succeeded his elder half-brother the 7th Marquess (1954–1999) in January 1999 as Marquess of Bristol. He is also the 12th Earl of Bristol, Earl Jermyn of Horningsheath in the County of Suffolk, 13th Baron Hervey of Ickworth in the County of Suffolk, and Hereditary High Steward of the Liberty of St Edmund, which encompasses the whole former county of West Suffolk. In 1998 the 7th Marquess sold his right to occupy the East Wing of Ickworth House, the family seat since the 15th century. After his death in 1999 the 8th Marquess vigorously criticised the National Trust for not reselling what would have been the remaining term of that leasehold to him, arguing that the 7th Marquess could only sell his own life interest, not that of his descendants. This was disputed by the National Trust who have since converted the East Wing into a hotel. However, in 2009 Sir Simon Jenkins, the National Trust's new chairman, stated, "I think it is in our interest for the Marquesses of Bristol to be living there."
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