Not what you expect a National Trust house to look like, and certainly not one that I that would be featuring on my
sporadic lately weekly post about my love of windows. As you know, I do love windows as they can perfectly frame a shot, can give you a glimpse of a world beyond them, or indeed be the focus themselves. This has to be the first National Trust house that we have visited that didn’t have any visible windows from the outside, and to be honest the ones inside were hard to photograph or access.
But it still felt like a good fit for Window Wednesday as the whole house is now giving us a glimpse through it into something else. The very fabric of a historic building, beyond the fripperies of tapestries, curtains and china collections.
I watched with horror on the local news two years ago when the story broke that Clandon Park was on fire. Built in the 1720s it was superb example of a Palladian mansion featuring original stucco ceilings and marble fireplaces, the most impressive of which were in the Marble Hall. Refurbished during the 1960s it housed a collection of 18th-century furniture and porcelain until the devastating fire in April 2015.
Thankfully nobody was hurt, and as the salvage operation began some pieces have been found and decisions are now being made on how, and who, should restore the House. Until recently it was, of course, closed to the public as not only was it not safe but there was tonnes of rubble to be cleared away. It’s hard to imagine just what two floors of a building and roof look like when they have come crashing down on the floor below isn’t it?
Recently however the National Trust have deemed it safe to visit and have erected a covered walk way in a few of the rooms to allow access. You must book in advance (either online or if you want to visit on the same day, you must phone) and if you are a member it is free. We did just that recently, donning hard hats and high vis jackets because this is still a building site. As you can see from the pictures above the entire building is encased in scaffolding and plastic sheeting and when the wind picks up the noise is pretty loud but from the inside you get a true sense of the devastating effects of that fire.
The once elegant Marble Hall now looks like this
The magnificent state bedroom now looks like this:
There is a great article here from the National Trust Press team about rescuing the bed and the curtains from this room which is well worth a read: Clandon Park’s State Bedroom
It is hard to imagine how on earth the building is going to be restored to its former glory, but the teams involved are passionate about making it happen that’s for sure. So if you are in the area, do go down and show them your support!
You can also wander the grounds which are lovely, we had missed the best of the daffodils but this little grotto below really caught our eye and we made a beeline for it across the lawn.
It feels like a bit of a work in progress which is unusual for a National Trust property isn’t it? You think they are older houses, finished, and just need to be maintained and looked after. Not this one. This one is going to be rebuilt over the coming years and it’s going to be exciting to see those changes take place.