The recent fire at Notre Dame must have brought back memories to those who lived and worked at Clandon Park House in Surrey. The Italianate 18th century house, designed by the architect Giacomo Leoni for the Earl of Onslow was almost totally destroyed when fire swept through the building in April 2015. Probably caused by an electrical fault in the basement, the fire left the building a roofless wreck, but with vestiges of its former interior in the Marble Hall and Speaker’s Parlour remaining. You can also see the remains of the ift shaft which may well have drawn the flames upwards.
Four years on, after an architectural competition won by Allies & Morrison, the Trust is about to submit its planning application for restoration of the main ground floor rooms to their 18th century designs, while the remainder of the house will be reconstructed as modern exhibition, event and other spaces. It does seem the right solution, especially as there are works in the course of conservation that can be returned to their former home.
While the Trust waits for the go-ahead for its proposals visitors can see the ground floor interiors and also visit part of the basement which remained intact, along with a small exhibition about the conservation challenges ahead. It’s strange some of the things which did survive, perhaps not what everyone would have wished, while more important things were lost – but fire is ruthless and does not take prisoners.
Given that the work may not be finished for another 5 years, it does raise questions about whether careful restoration of Notre Dame, a larger project, can be completed in the stated goal of 5 years.
Meanwhile, the 130-year old Maori Meeting House, one of only 4 outside New Zealand, is itself undergoing restoration.