Chilford Hall wedding barn remains 'to be demolished'

Media captionChilford Hall's barn and adjoining rooms were razed to the ground on 13 June

The owners of a wedding venue destroyed by fire have said they hope to demolish what is left and rebuild on the site.

Chilford Hall in Linton, near Cambridge, lost its 18th Century Great Hall, the 1728 Linton Hall barn and a network of adjoining venues and rooms.

The Alper family needs permission to knock down what remains of the listed buildings following the fire in June.

Fiona Alper, whose late husband Sam set up the business, said the fire felt like a bereavement.

Sixty firefighters from three counties battled for several hours to save the buildings, many of which were wooden.

Director Glen Mejia said there were "lots of tears" but Chilford Hall had to pick itself back up for customers who had already booked weddings.

'Everything had gone'

Image caption Fiona Alper said the buildings contained many works of art

"It was heartbreaking to see the whole thing go up, everyone worked hard to trying to save it.

"But I'm afraid it was a wooden barn and it was impossible to save.

"Two days after the fire we had a wedding day and it wasn't until we actually started planning it that we realised every single thing had gone.

"Crockery, cutlery, things you rely on.

"We had a real battle on our hands to require all these things at short notice.

"But we managed to do it. We had a lot of help from a lot of companies and local people and we were able to continue doing the weddings."

Chilford Hall has been using a marquee in its grounds but Mrs Alper said she hoped it would eventually have a bricks and mortar venue based on "good architecture".

'High affection'

The hall's 18-acre vineyard, which celebrated 40 years of wine-making in May, was unaffected.

Mrs Alper said: "We've lost things which are absolutely irreplaceable - over 29 major pieces of arts and sculpture, a wonderful collection of old farming implements.

"A panel designed by Sir Frank Brangwyn had survived the Blitz but the fire at Chilford finished it off, and there was a sculpture by my husband which I feel very sad about.

"It's been rather like a bereavement, we've received hundreds of letters and cards and messages.

"People obviously hold Chilford in high affection, we've just been overwhelmed by it.

"But we're looking to the future now and we do hope we're going to reinstate something, we're not sure what yet."

Two men from Haverhill, Suffolk, both charged with two counts of arson with intent to endanger life, are due to appear at court later in August.

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