the 16th of April 1902 a great fire broke out in a South Wiltshire
The mansion was Stourhead House, home to the Hoare family for
over 200 years.
The fire raged all night. It swept through the main core of the
building, gutting it.
The roof and windows were destroyed.
the following morning smoke still rose from the remains.
The great house had been reduced to a blackened and smouldering
was discovered by the housemaid and under housemaid as they went upstairs
to resume duties after breakfast.
Entrance Hall of Stourhead House, on the day of the fire, 16th
of the front bedrooms was filled with smoke from a fire in the chimney
The fire rapidly took hold, ripping through the upper floors.
Staff at the house, unable to stop the fire's progress, turned their
rescuing the family’s precious collection of furniture, books and
works of art.
The family had amassed, over 175 years, a vast collection of works
by great masters such as Poussin and Sir Joshua Reynolds.
As the fire raged the great rescue effort began.
Teams of people, over 100 strong, passed furniture and paintings through
the windows of the burning house on to the lawn.
Local villagers, seeing smoke, made their way to the house and joined
horse drawn fire engine, hand pumps and hose carts arrived from Mere,
Zeals and Frome.
Alda and staff catalogued the salvaged items on the lawn in
front of the Stourhead House.
firemen fought the blaze with water from the lake.
The family helped too.
Alda, wrapped up in coat and hat, can be seen in photographs cataloguing
the rescued items she treasured.
Henry Hoare was at a board meeting in Salisbury.
On his arrival at the scene, the Bristol Mercury recorded:
seemed to take the matter somewhat coolly, if outward appearances
count for anything, and he walked up and down the lawn smoking cigarettes.
But conversation with him revealed intense sorrow at what was taking
place around him."
mark the centenary of the 1902 fire at Stourhead House and the great
rescue operation which followed a series of special events has been
organised this month at Stourhead.
include an exhibition of dramatic black and white photographs and
written accounts of the fire which will be on display
fire-fighting teams came form Mere, Zeals House, and Lord Stalbridge
in the House from April 3rd to 30th.
"The fire constitutes an important part of the history of the house,"
said Beccy Speight, the National Trust’s Property Manager at Stourhead.
fire gutted the centre of the house but left the library and picture
gallery unscathed. Sir Henry Hoare insisted that the house be rebuilt
in replica, and it was, being completed in 1907."