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