Clandon Park is Open Again after the Fire

It was the 29th April 2015 and news started to come in – Clandon Park near Guildford was on fire. Beautiful Clandon Park – a Grade I listed mansion. But there’s good news – Clandon is being rebuilt.

Clandon House 2013

Clandon Park is a mansion near West Clandon, near Guildford. On the 29th April 2015 a fire gutted the mansion, all bar one room. The fire started in the basement and spread to the upper floors.

Fortunately several things were saved and retrieved before the fire took hold. However, a lot was lost – including the inside of the house. Clandon Park is just a shell.

Clandon Park fireplaces that survived after the fire

As National Trust members, we’ve combined Clandon Park and nearby Hatchlands Park in a single visit. When H was a baby Clandon was the better of the two for little legs. It has now reopened, and things are changing.

From January 2019 work will begin on restoring Clandon. The ground floor will be as close as possible to how it was, with the upper floors having an exhibition area which will continually change. On the top floor there’s talk of a dining area with spectacular views across the Surrey Hills.

Hi vis and hard hats to see inside Clandon Park

We were given hard hats and hi-vis vests and had a look inside the house.

There is a walkway through a section of the house, and it’s fascinating. Obviously it goes without saying it would be better the fire never happened, though because it did, the people who volunteer at Clandon have learned so much about how the house was built.

Clandon Park after the fire Royal Bedroom and doorway

For example, in the Royal Chamber; a room which was always ready for any passing Kings or Queens to stay, should they need to; it was discovered the walls had several layers. Initially wood was nailed into the walls which were then covered in hessian. Wallpaper was placed over that, leaving what everyone saw up to 2015. But now you can see the layers underneath.

Clandon Park after the fire - 1930s fireproof solution and looking up to the roof
How about some 1930s fireproofing? There is a tiny section which hangs across the upper floor. Sadly ironic, it’s the only part which still stands up there.

Incredibly, the marble fireplaces remain intact. The staff at Clandon Park found that pillars thought to be marble were in fact painted to look that way – and were just plaster. On the first floor statues (again, marble) are intact. You can see smaller fireplaces which survived as well.

What H thought would be a boring hour or two ended up being a really fascinating hour or two. Seeing the structure of the house, how thick the walls are and seeing where wood and stone staircases once were is really interesting.

If you visit Hatchlands Park, I’d recommend a trip to Clandon Park as well. It’s just up the road, the grounds are open too. I wish it wasn’t interesting and that we were visiting as normal (the cafe in the basement was always one of our favourite National Trust ones), but love that H came away asking different questions about the build of the house.

Clandon Park Dutch Garden and Newt

In the gardens we spotted loads of newts in the pond in the Dutch Garden – with the glorious sunshine it was a lovely day to get out and enjoy being outdoors. Looking across the bulb meadow to the house there was a hint of sadness, though knowing things will change in the coming years means this view will happen again.

To visit Clandon Park, please check their opening times. You can turn up to visit the house, you don’t need to pre-book. Spending money at Clandon Park also helps vital funds needed for this rebuilding project.

Clandon Park after the fire. Before and after

Country Kids
 

Clandon Park Fire

We were saddened to hear the news about the Clandon Park fire last week. We’re lucky that we have so many National Trust properties, gardens and land near here. Clandon Park need your help. Please read.

South Front of Clandon Park
South Front of Clandon Park

The National Trust today revealed a significant amount of the collection had been saved from the Clandon Park fire during the salvage operation.

Crews from Surrey Fire Brigade were continuing to dampen down the stately home, following the blaze which ripped through the 18th century stately home, near Guildford, Surrey, on Wednesday afternoon.

The house has been left a burnt out shell by the blaze and a cordon remains in place around the site.

Staff are now assessing what they have been able to save and determining what has been lost.

Among the items that have been saved are:

  • Painting depicting Speaker Arthur Onslow calling upon Sir Robert Walpole to speak in the House of Commons, by Sir James Thornhill  and William Hogarth   1730, from the Library
  • Board listing the rules to be observed in the servants’ hall at Clandon, eighteenth century.
  • Painting of an ostrich in a classical landscape, oil on canvas, by Francis Barlow (c.1626–1704), probably painted in the 1670s, from the Marble Hall.
  • Bible printed by John Basket in 1716-1717, from the Library
  • Folding screen incorporating Victorian and Edwardian Onslow family photographs, from the Library
  • A pair of giltwood side tables in the manner of John Gumley and James Moore, made in about 1725, from the State Bedroom
  • Silver, including some pieces by the noted silversmith Paul Storr, from the Speaker’s Parlour
  • The hangings of the Clandon state bed, made in about 1710. The hangings had just returned to Clandon following conservation treatment and were still packed up.
  • Set of hall chairs with the Onslow crest, from the Marble Hall at Clandon

Until a full assessment is done it will not be possible to confirm objects that did not survive.

The Trust’s Director General, Helen Ghosh said: “Although the house was pretty well burned out, the operation rescued a significant amount of the collection, and we are hopeful there will be more to recover when our specialists are able to get inside the building and start the painstaking archaeological salvage work. But there is a lot that we will never recover.

“The  immediate sense of shock and loss amongst staff working at the property has quickly been replaced by a steely determination. The team at Clandon, staff from other properties and local volunteers – have responded with tremendous fortitude, calmness and professionalism to the event.

When the overall impact of the fire is clearer, we will be able to decide on the longer term future of the house.

“I’d like to again thank the magnificent job the Surrey Fire Brigade. Their team-work and professionalism has been awe-inspiring.

“We’ve also been very touched by the offers of support, concern and good will from all over the country – we appreciate those messages.”

We cannot say at this stage what the future holds but donations raised will help Clandon Park face its uncertain future. To make a donation please call 0344 800 1895 or donate online

Clandon Park 2013