Hope for Clandon

The interior of Clandon the day after the fire. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

The interior of Clandon the day after the fire. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

On April 29 Clandon Park suffered a devastating fire which destroyed most of its interior. Thousands of items are feared to have been lost. Following the initial firefighting and salvage operations, structural engineers and insurers have been assessing the site.

A bust from the Marble Hall which was salvaged immediately after the fire. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

A bust from the Marble Hall which was salvaged immediately after the fire. ©National Trust Images/John Millar

Helen Ghosh, our Director General, has now said that ‘We’re hopeful that one day we can rebuild Clandon, but quite how, when and in what form is far from certain at this early stage. Nevertheless we would like to reassure all those people who love Clandon as much as we do that it will continue in some shape or form in the future.’

Firemen recovering the frame of the portrait of the 1st Lord Onslow from the Speakers' Parlour. The portrait itself had been cut from the frame during the initial salvage operation. ©National Trust/John Millar

Firemen recovering the frame of the portrait of the 1st Lord Onslow from the Speakers’ Parlour. The portrait itself had been cut from the frame during the initial salvage operation. ©National Trust/John Millar

The external walls remain largely intact and work will begin shortly to erect scaffolding. Once that is complete and the building has been declared safe, specialist teams will undertake an archaeological salvage operation to recover more of what remains.

State purse of Arthur Onslow, the 'Great Speaker' (1691-1768). ©National Trust

State purse of Arthur Onslow, the ‘Great Speaker’ (1691-1768). ©National Trust

3D laser scanning, geophysical surveys and both ground-level and aerial photography are all being used to assess the site.

Carved and gilded armchair associated with the 'Great Speaker'. ©National Trust

Carved and gilded armchair associated with the ‘Great Speaker’. ©National Trust

Significant objects from the collection were rescued from the fire, including paintings, furniture and silver. However, it will not be possible to confirm the full list of items saved and lost until the the full salvage operation has been completed.

The 4th Countess of Onslow's dinner book, recording menus and guests for dinners given at Clandon between 1875 and 1910. ©National Trust

The 4th Countess of Onslow’s dinner book, recording menus and guests for dinners given at Clandon between 1875 and 1910. ©National Trust

But curator Sophie Chessum, who is leading the conservation team, has said she is pleased that a number of significant objects with connections to the Onslow family, who built Clandon, have been saved.

Prisoner of war badge belonging to the 6th Earl of Onslow, who was imprisoned at Offlag 79 camp near Brunswick during the last months of the Second World War. ©National Trust

Prisoner of war badge belonging to the 6th Earl of Onslow, who was imprisoned at Offlag 79 camp near Brunswick during the last months of the Second World War. ©National Trust

Some of the latest items confirmed as saved include the purse of state of ‘Great Speaker’ Arthur Onslow, an armchair associated with the Great Speaker, the 4th Countess of Onslow’s dinner book and the prisoner of war badge of the 6th Earl of Onslow.

7 Responses to “Hope for Clandon”

  1. CherryPie Says:

    After the devastation it is good to hear that many items have been recovered and that the building will be restored eventually.

  2. Andrew Says:

    Good news! Let us hope that there are lots of largely undamaged items lurking in the wreckage, like that bust. Can you remind us, what was the experience after Uppark? Perhaps less was removed to safety this time, but perhaps more will be in the ashes?

  3. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Andrew, at Uppark there was more time to take things out, as the fire started in the roof. At Clandon the fire started in the basement, making salvage more difficult, so a higher percentage of the collection has been lost.

  4. RobinWire Says:

    I hope the nt can make an opportunity if this devastation. I hope you do regular posts on this subject. Robin

  5. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Yes i hope so too, on both accounts.

  6. Neil Says:

    Several months on from the incident, the NT seems fairly tight lipped about the whole affair. How did the fire start, and is it true that nothing survives from the rooms to the right of the marble hall? I see it’s been publicised that there will be an archaeological recovery exercise but surely the cream of the collection, items such as paintings and furniture have all burned and will not be found surviving beneath the debris?

  7. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Neil, I haven’t been given any further information yet. Indeed we are not expecting things to appear unscathed from beneath the debris. But the careful – and, inevitably, slow – excavation of that debris is essential, both to determine the cause of the fire and to recover as many fragments as possible that might be used in the reconstruction.

    Our head curator David Adshead has just published this comment on the fire in our Historic Houses and Collections Annual: http://bit.ly/1K5jfyA (see p.3).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: