Fire-ravaged Clandon Park to be rebuilt by National Trust

Clandon Park, a stately home in Surrey which was mostly destroyed in 2015, is to be rebuilt for the National Trust, and the designers have now been chosen.

The house has been the seat of the Earls of Onslow for two centuries, whose family members have been Speaker in the House of Commons and Lord Mayor of London. Built in the early years of 1730, the interiors were finished by the 1740s; the house was notable for its two-storey Marble Hall, with chimney pieces by the Flemish sculptor Michael Rysbrack, and a plasterwork ceiling by Giuseppe Artari and Bagutti, in a rococo style.

Clandon park was destroyed by fire in 2015, but is to be revived (Jim Bowen)

Like many grand houses of the late 18th century, Capability Brown was responsible for the current landscape, most of which is still under the Onslow ownership and not part of the National Trust.

National Trust director general Helen Ghosh said at the time of the blaze in April 2015: “The scale of the damage to the mansion has been devastating. The house is now essentially a shell, most of the roof, ceiling and floors have collapsed into the bottom of the building.

“There is perhaps one room that is relatively untouched but, other than that, the interior is extensively damaged. The external walls are still standing.

the exquisite grand marble hall at clandon park with marble floor and ornate chimney was mostly destroyed in the 2015 fire (andrew whitman)

“It’s a terrible sight. We have saved some significant items but certainly not everything that we wanted to save.”

Clandon Park was handed to the National Trust in 1956.

An international design competition was held by the National Trust to chose how to bring Clandon Park back to life; 60 entries were submitted by some of the world’s leading designers, but architects Allies and Morrison have been chosen to assist in restoring the 18th century Palladian house in this challenging project.

A jury of heritage, architecture and art specialists unanimously decided on the design to revive the house, whittling it down from six. These including Ptolemy Dean (Westminster Abbey’s Surveyor of the Fabric), David Bickle (Director of Design, Exhibition and FuturePlan at the V&A Museum), architectural historian Clive Aslet, and local resident, Dame Penelope Keith.

Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

The jury praised the winning team’s bold yet balanced approach, to ‘respect the quality and character of the mansion house in its historic setting’. While still in the early stages, and providing the proper approval is gained for work on the property, Allies and Morrison will work closely with the National Trust to develop a final design.

“Our approach is about balance; meticulously reinstating historically significant spaces while in others exploiting the extraordinary character of massive brick walls,” explained Paul Appleton, Partner at Allies and Morrison.

“New floors and ceilings are slotted into this robust matrix to re-order and to redefine, but only just as much as is needed to create timeless spaces without erasing the marks of time.

“From a restored Marble Hall, through the series of grand rooms on the principal floor, to a soaring new space connecting the lower ground floor to a new roof-terrace, each element plays its own particular part.”

Since 2016, visitors have been able to access the shell of the house wearing hard hats. It has given a unique insight into the working of Clandon and its structure. Images and information boards show what had been there before the inferno took hold.

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