Update 5/1/15: We have received many messages from our supporters and the public following this devastating fire at Clandon Park. If you would like to make a donation to help the National Trust and Clandon Park, we would be very grateful. We cannot say at this stage what the future holds but donations raised will help Clandon Park face its uncertain future. Donate Now
We are saddened by the news that Clandon Park House, Surrey, suffered significant damage in a fire that broke out late Wednesday afternoon local time.
While no one was injured and local fire teams managed to subdue the blaze, Helen Ghosh, the National Trust’s Director General, called the effects to the property “devastating.” She said: “The house is now essentially a shell, most of the roof, ceiling and floors have collapsed into the bottom of the building.”
An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.
According to the Trust, the interior walls, except for one lightly-touched room, are in shambles. However, thanks to a well-rehearsed plan around such disasters, the Trust managed to evacuate not only all visitors, volunteers and staff, but also save many of the key items in the house.
A before and after of the Marble Entrance Hall at Clandon.
Clandon is a Palladian mansion with one of the finest collections of 18th Century furniture, porcelain and textiles. The original stucco ceilings and marble fireplace are particularly noteworthy, and we hope that as many elements of the house as possible survive intact.
Ghosh said that: “We have saved some significant items but certainly not everything that we wanted to save… 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.”
Among the items safe from the fire is a Francis Barlow painting, “A Farmyard.” Royal Oak donated £27,500 from the Ervin-DesChamps Fund to conserve this wonderful, large painting. Thankfully, it is currently away from the property, safe in the conservation studio where it is being worked on, alongside another of Clandon’s artworks.
Volunteers participated in a massive salvage effort to protect as much of the property’s collection from damage as possible. John Gibson, the National Trust’s General Manager at River Wey & Godalming Navigations, was on the ground at Clandon until 2 AM Thursday morning. The images below are courtesy of him and of the National Trust.
Gibson spoke to Royal Oak and shared his thoughts from the experience. He said. “The flames reaching out of the roof were caught and fanned by a fresh breeze – an awesome and frightening site to behold. Fire Service response [was] massive – attendance by engines from 3 counties and London.
“The group response was to do the very best we could with the objects which had been saved, keep an eye out for each other and begin to think of next steps if any opportunity might arise to recover more objects from the house. No panic, no tears but heartfelt anguish but very difficult to more than we could in the face of such an extreme and devastating blaze.
“At the end of a long day – the fire started around 4pm – heading off site at 2am in the morning – aware some Clandon staff staying overnight with Fire Bridge in case their input required. True dedication to their work and values.”
In the midst of this disaster, it is heartening to hear of that dedication and to see the outpouring of support from other National Trust properties and the wider preservation world. Clandon will certainly be in the thoughts of the staff and supporters here at Royal Oak.
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