The plan for Clandon

The Marble Hall, 1, photo James Dobson-National Trust Images

The Marble Hall at Clandon, following the removal of the debris and the stabilisation of the remaining wall surfaces. ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

An announcement was made yesterday about the plans to bring Clandon Park back to life following the devastating fire last April.

Crates with salavaged items from the Saloon, photo James Dobson-National Trust Images

Crates with salvaged fragments in the Saloon. ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

Over the last nine months, the colleagues involved with Clandon have reviewed a number of options, ranging from leaving it as a ruin to a full restoration. They considered the architectural significance of what had survived the fire, the items salvaged from the building and what was technically possible within it.

Cleaning the leg of a marble topped table in the Marble Hall, photo James Dobson-National Trust Images

Conservator cleaning the remains of a side table in the Marble Hall. ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

The criteria guiding the decision-making process reflect the National Trust’s core purpose. They include making sure that Clandon remains open to the public, considering Clandon’s historic and cultural significance and generating enough income to maintain its long-term conservation.

We are now confident that a number of principal rooms on the ground floor, including the Marble Hall, the Speakers’ Parlour and the Saloon, can be restored – and should be, given their architectural and historical significance.

Statue of Venus in the Marble Hall, photo James Dobson-National Trust Images

A plaster cast of a statue of Venus, still in situ in the Marble Hall. ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

The fact that so many features survived the fire, and that items from the rooms have been recovered from the ashes, makes the case for restoration compelling. We will be able to draw on a wealth of relevant expertise from within the National Trust and from elsewhere.

But we are not looking to recreate the rooms as they were the day before the fire. The enduring significance of architect Giacomo Leoni’s original designs means that we can go back to the original eighteenth-century decorative schemes and layout of the house.

The Marble Hall, 2, photo James Dobson-National Trust Images

View of the Marble Hall, with a protective temporary roof visible above. ©National Trust Images/James Dobson

The rooms on the upper floors were less architecturally significant and had been considerably altered over the centuries. So it has been proposed to transform those rooms into flexible spaces which could be used for exhibitions, events and performances.

Recent research has also given us a better understanding of the original eighteenth-century gardens. If resources permit we hope to bring those back to life as well, in the spirit of a project that will both look back to the best of the past and create an exciting future for Clandon.

More information, images and updates can be found on our website.

13 Responses to “The plan for Clandon”

  1. Kate Hay Says:

    Thank you for the update Emile, how interesting to hear about progress.

  2. Mireille Yichieh Shih Says:

    Thank you Emile as I might be the most anxious person to know how the collection was saved!
    I’ve been always woking on European figures made in 18th century Canton, and not only those of Chitqua but also all other exported portrait figures (now there are 36 in my catalogue!), I’d be very grateful to know whether the Henry Talbot figure was saved?! Here is the photo:

    I have contacted the Dorking Museum as well, but they said they didn’t have any clues. Cross figures in hoping that he could survived!

  3. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Thanks Kate.

    Mireille, I don’t know, but I will ask the colleagues involved and report back.

  4. CherryPie Says:

    After the devastation this sounds like an interesting project going forward.

  5. Susan Walter Says:

    Woohoo! A chance for the artisans to shine 🙂 These sorts of restoration conservation projects are so important for maintaining skills. And a chance for modern artisans to prove that they are as good (sometimes better) than their predecessors. Overall a very practical solution, with the modern rooms above. Bon courage !

  6. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Mireille, further to your question, more items are still being uncovered as the painstaking process of sifting through the rubble continues. So until the salvage operation is complete we cannot yet give a detailed list of what has been lost.

    Cherie and Susan, yes indeed the restoration process will provide scope for the deployment of conservation and craft skills.

  7. Mireille Yichieh Shih Says:

    Many thanks for the news, and with all my best wishes to the park and the rescue team! 😉

  8. trewinb Says:

    Thanks for the update, Emile, and great news that the Ground Floor rooms are to be restored to their original state. The National Trust has probably made the correct decision with regards to the upper floors although I would hope that an out of context modernist approach to these areas is not inevitable. A classical style in sympathy with the building is equally justified and may result in a higher value as either a conference facility or gallery space. Personally I would favour the creation of a gallery space for eighteenth century works currently in storage at the major national galleries, and an appropriate country house setting.

  9. Craig Marriott Says:

    I was reading the Clandon guide book and wondering if the doorway from the Marble Hall to the Palladio Room via a marble hallway will be reinstated?

  10. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Craig, as I understand it the plan is to restore as much as possible of the original Leoni architecture and lay-out. But I will ask the colleagues involved about that particular doorway.

  11. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Further to this, I have been told that we cannot yet say exactly what we will do or be able to do – there is a lot still to be worked out. But the colleagues directly involved with Clandon will keep posting updates on our website (see link above).

  12. Neil Says:

    I wonder what will happen to the horrible Victorian porch on the front of the house? If the NT is genuinely comitted to restoring Leoni’s architecture it would be nice to see that removed. Perhaps it would do for a ticket kiosk?

  13. Emile de Bruijn Says:

    Neil, this will probably be looked at, but no decisions have been taken yet.

    It would make a very, very grand kiosk 🙂

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