Clandon Park House fire: Salvage operation under way

Fire crews tackle the blaze Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Fire crews were at the scene throughout the night

Efforts are under way to save "irreplaceable" antiques at an 18th Century stately home after parts of it were gutted in a huge blaze.

The fire at the National Trust-run Clandon Park House, near Guildford, is thought to have started in the basement just after 16:00 BST on Wednesday.

Geri Silverston, spokesman for the trust, said: "We still haven't got access to the building."

An investigation into the cause of the fire has been launched, he added.

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Media captionFootage shows the extent of the blaze

At its height, about 80 firefighters fought the blaze, which gutted at least one wing of the Grade I listed mansion which was built in the 1720s.

Many items from a large collection of 18th Century furniture, porcelain and textiles housed inside the property were destroyed.

"The full extent of the damage is not known but work is ongoing to salvage what can be salvaged from inside," the fire service said.

Image copyright @NPAS_Redhill
Image caption Police helicopter footage revealed the extent to which the fire spread through the building
Image copyright NPAS_REDHILL
Image caption The helicopter team fed information on the fire to emergency crews on the ground

National Trust director Helen Ghosh said the "most important" thing was that no-one was hurt.

"But it has been heartbreaking to witness the terrible damage to this wonderful mansion, which means so much, to so many people," she said.

"This will come as a terrible shock and a devastating personal blow to all our devoted staff and volunteers.

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Media captionThe fire at Clandon Park House near Guildford started at about 16:00 BST on Wednesday and was still burning at 21:00

She said the trust would continue to work with the fire service as it tried to bring the blaze under control.

A total of 16 crews were sent to the building after Surrey Fire and Rescue Service received a 999 call at 16:09.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing thick black smoke pouring from the building.

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Media captionNational Trust's Geri Silverstone: "It is absolutely devastating to see this really special house being attacked by the flames"

Clandon Park was built by a Venetian architect for Lord Onslow in the 1720s and the estate was passed down through generations of the family.

The building, which has become a popular wedding venue, was left to the trust in 1956.

It said the Palladian mansion contains a "superb" collection of 18th Century furniture, porcelain and textiles and features original stucco ceilings and marble fireplaces.

Image copyright Sheenagh McLaren
Image caption The fire started just after 16:00 BST on Wednesday
Image copyright NAtional Trust/ Anthony Parkinson
Image caption The Palladian mansion contained a "superb" collection of 18th Century furniture, porcelain and textiles