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A remarkable historical and natural heritage


Ancestor of the refrigerator

In the 18th century, many castles were equipped with special underground coolers for storing ice or snow collected during the winter to conserve foods and wine. These were either large underground rooms or vast wells, in which ice collected from frozen bodies of water was piled. The icehouse enabled food to be stored for longer periods and during the summer, and wine to be served chilled as it was drunk at the time.

The pit was generally built facing north, topped by a masonry structure, itself covered by a mound of earth for better insulation. Inside the pit, the ice was isolated from the ground and outside air by straw and branches. To reduce air circulation, buckets of water were added on a regular basis; as the water flowed, it solidified and filled the voids. Meltwater was collected in an excavation at the bottom of the shaft for easy disposal.

The historic ice house at Château d'Amblie is 5 metres deep and 2 metres wide. Made of Creully stone, it is in an excellent state of preservation, thanks to its perfectly insulated vault, covered by a mound of earth.

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