National Trust Fire

09-06-2015

Fire breaks out at Clandon Park in Surrey

Everyone was evacuated from the building and there were no reports of injuries.  The fire spread throughout the building, causing devastating damage in all but one room.

Fire investigation officers are looking to establish the cause of the fire.  We're currently assessing and cataloguing the items which were able to be salvaged.  A significant amount of the collection has been saved.

Roger Childs, of Surrey fire and rescue service, said that the intensity of the flames burnt away floorboards and ceilings. “The fire originally started, we believe, in the basement, and because it’s Grade I listed, the fire spread through these uncontained voids and it quickly spread through the roof.” 

Notwithstanding the above, it should be noted, however, that the fire investigation team had not yet entered the building at the time of this report due to the instability of the structure.  The cause of the fire and the path of fire travel are therefore yet to be determined.

Around 80 firefighters tackled the blaze at its height, which sent flames shooting into the sky and stacks of dense black smoke belching out.   Witnesses said fire crews rescued paintings and furniture while the building was ablaze and lined them up on the manicured lawns.

Speaking from the site of the blaze the morning after the fire, Director General, Helen Ghosh, said:  “The Surrey Fire Service has now handed Clandon Park back to us.  It’s unlikely that any further salvaging will take place in the short term due to concerns over the safety of the building which is currently being assessed.  Clandon Park was one of the country’s most complete examples of a Palladian mansion and contained a superb collection of 18th-century furniture, porcelain and textiles.

“We have a very well-rehearsed plan to get key items out of houses but it’s still too early to say just how much we have been able to save.  It will clearly take some time to assess the full scale of the damage and to then consider what the options are for the house.  The most important thing is that no-one was injured and everyone was safely evacuated.  Although I’m upset by what has happened, I also feel huge pride at the tremendous work of our staff and volunteers in dealing with this terrible event.  The local team have had marvellous support from colleagues from neighbouring properties and specialists from across the Trust”. 

It was reported that the interior of Grade I-listed Clandon Park House, owned by the National Trust and home to valuable historical artefacts, suffered 100% smoke and fire damage in the inferno, though much of its prized collection of furniture and art was saved.  The mansion, near Guildford in Surrey, famed for its original stucco ceilings, marble fireplaces and magnificent two-storey Marble Hall, was a popular wedding venue, with the fire leaving many couples’ plans in tatters.

June Davey, one of the 170 volunteers who work at Clandon Park, was on duty at the mansion before the fire broke out.  She said: "We had the most beautiful morning, lovely volunteers.  It was heavenly.  I stood in the room and thought how lucky I am just to be in the house."  Mrs Davey, who was recognised in the New Year's Honours for her volunteer work, said: "We found out very quickly they had got everybody out.  We have got a very clear evacuation procedure."  She said two members of staff lived in the mansion and had lost their homes and belongings.

 

Story collated by Liz Turnbull.

Resources used:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-surrey-32528435

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/article-1355894945049/

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/apr/30/clandon-park-house-fire-salvage-stately-home-surrey

 

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