In April last year Clandon Park was almost completely destroyed by a devastating fire. The National Trust have now revealed their plans for the future of the historic house.
The project will be the charity’s biggest conservation project in a generation.
A nine month review process looked at a range of options ranging from leaving it as a ruin to a full restoration.
Following the review, the National Trust have said it was now confident a number of principal rooms on the ground floor could and should be restored because of their historical and cultural significance. Over 400 artefacts have been recovered from the ashes and one of Clandon Park’s most important roooms, the Speakers’ Parlour, suffered only minor damage. The trust is not planning to recreate the rooms as they were before the fire but restore them to the designs of the original architect Giacomo Leoni.
The first and second floors of the house collapsed and were completely destroyed and although architecturally significant, they had been considerably altered over the years.
The upper floors are planned to be restored and transformed into flexible spaces for exhibitions, events and performances with members of the public and visitors being encouraged to get involved in the design.
Research has recently unveiled the original 18th century designs for the gardens so as part of the restoration plans, the National Trust plans to transform the gardens into their original layout.
Helen Ghosh, the National Trust’s director general, said “Today marks an exciting new chapter in Clandon’s story, and will represent one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken by the National Trust.
“The fire at Clandon was shocking, but gives us the opportunity not only to show our respect for the heritage of the past, but also to create a new heritage for the future.
“Our plans involve returning parts of the house to its 18th century glory whilst at the same time creating a building of beauty and relevance for the 21st century.
“The loss of so many of the contents of the house means that we cannot return it to how it looked the day before the fire. However, we now know more about the original layout and recognise that the enduring significance of the house is its architecture and so we would like to return it to the 18th century design – making it a purer, more faithful version of Clandon as it was when it was first built.”
Plans have not been finalised and discussions with specialists and conservation bodies are ongoing. The majority of the cost of the project is expected to be met by the Trust’s insurance policy but once the plans have reached an advanced stage the Trust said they would be approaching supporters for help.
You can find out more about Clandon Park and its history at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/clandon-park
Photos courtesy of National Trust Press Office