Surrey

Clandon Park: Earl's plea over 'mock-Georgian replica' fear

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Media captionThe Earl of Onslow says he will "never forget" the fire which gutted his ancestral home - Clandon House.

The 8th Earl of Onslow wants plans to rebuild his fire-ravaged ancestral home shelved, claiming it will be turned into a "mock-Georgian monolith".

The 18th Century Clandon Park House, in Surrey, was reduced to a shell by a major blaze in April.

Rupert Onslow said the £65m restoration cost would be best spent on at risk National Trust (NT) properties.

The NT said it was exploring "various options" for the Grade-I listed house, but it did have a future.

The Palladian mansion, near Guildford, was bequeathed to the NT in 1956.

'Clandon lost'

Lord Onslow told BBC Surrey it should be allowed to go to ruin.

"The tragedy is that the house has gone. It's happened, Clandon has been lost," he said.

"My question, which I think is best answered by the members, is what would they wish to have done with the insurance money?

"Do the [NT] members want to see what would be a suburban mock-Georgian monolith sitting on a small garden?

"Or would they like to see restoration of a building of historic genuine nature that is in danger of collapsing?"

He added: "I will never forget seeing orange fire in 44 windows on four floors of that house.

"It's not because I didn't love Clandon it's just that I don't think the [NT] members would genuinely benefit from a replica.

"I think it should be shorn up and left as a tragic sad site. I look forward not backwards."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The 8th Earl of Onslow wants the building to be left to go to ruin

An NT spokeswoman said they had been "overwhelmed by the public's response since the fire".

"It has reinforced just what a special place it is to so many people," she said.

"We want to reassure all those people who love Clandon Park that it does have a future. We have already said that it will be rebuilt in some shape or form. We are currently looking carefully at various options for the house."

Investigators said the fire that swept through the building, which housed a collection of furniture, porcelain and textiles, was probably caused by an electrical fault.

Staff were able to get out of the house safely and no-one was injured. A salvage plan helped to save contents and fire detection systems operated as they should have done, the spokeswoman said.

Image copyright National Trust Images/John Hammond
Image caption Thomas 2nd Baron Onslow built the current Palladian Mansion in the 18th Century

Clandon Park and the Onslow family

  • The Onslow family has been associated with the site since 1641 when Sir Arthur Onslow, MP for Surrey, relocated to the area from London.
  • His grandson, Thomas 2nd Baron Onslow, rebuilt the manor house on Clandon Park as a Palladian Mansion in the 1720s.
  • The estate fell into disrepair in the mid-19th Century before the 4th Earl of Onslow began refurbishing when he inherited the earldom in 1870.
  • The family allowed Clandon Park House to be used as a military hospital in World War I and as a depository for the Public Records Office during World War II.
  • It was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1956, more than a decade before the current earl was born.

Source: National Trust

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