Before refrigeration was readily available, large houses would often built ice houses for the storage of ice and fresh food.
Ice houses would be built largely underground, depending on the ground level, they could be built into a slope, or, where the natural lay of the land was flattish, space could be excavated and once built, earth built up over the top.
Ice was usually placed in the ice house in layers of straw to delay its melting, in later days commercially produced ice (an ice factory was opened in the Lower High Street, Newport in 1926, demolished circa 1970) would be used rather than that collected during the winter months.
A number of ice houses on the Island are documented - those surviving include: Appuldurcombe, Fernhill (Wootton), Norris Castle, Osborne and Westover. The ice house at East Cowes Castle was in poor condition and was filled with chalk and then covered by a grass mound to preserve it for possibly future restoration - there is an information board near it's location.