Clandon Park

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Clandon House
Clandon House.jpg
General information
Status Gutted by fire[1]
Architectural style Palladian
Location West Clandon, Surrey
Country England
Coordinates 51°15′02″N 0°30′30″W / 51.25046°N 0.50836°W / 51.25046; -0.50836Coordinates: 51°15′02″N 0°30′30″W / 51.25046°N 0.50836°W / 51.25046; -0.50836
Client Thomas, 2nd Baron Onslow
Owner National Trust
Design and construction
Architect Giacomo Leoni
Other designers Lancelot Brown (Garden)
Designations Grade I listed
Official website

Clandon Park is an 18th-century Palladian mansion in West Clandon just outside Guildford, Surrey, England. It has been a National Trust property since 1956 and is a Grade I listed building.[2]

The house was substantially damaged in a fire in April 2015, which left it "essentially a shell".


The house was built, or perhaps thoroughly rebuilt, around 1730–33 (the latter date is on rainwater leads), designed by the Venetian architect Giacomo Leoni, replacing an Elizabethan property. The estate had been bought in 1641, together with Temple Court Farm at Merrow, by Sir Richard Onslow, MP for Surrey in the Long Parliament, from Sir Richard Weston, canal builder and pioneering agriculturalist, of nearby Sutton Place.[3] The new building was commissioned by his great-grandson Thomas, 2nd Baron Onslow. Many members of the Onslow family followed political careers—three of them, including Arthur Onslow, were Speakers of the House of Commons. Clandon Park's interiors, which were finished into the 1740s, featured a two-storey Marble Hall, containing marble chimney pieces by the Flemish sculptor Michael Rysbrack, and rococo plasterwork ceiling by Italian-Swiss artists Giuseppe Artari and Bagutti.[4]

During World War I Clandon Park was used as a military hospital.[5]


Hinemihi, the Māori meeting house in Clandon Park

To the landscape gardens designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown in 1781 have been added a parterre (illustration), grotto, the sunken Dutch garden created by Frances, Countess of Onslow in the late 19th century, and a Māori meeting house named Hinemihi. This was originally situated near Lake Tarawera in New Zealand and provided shelter to the people of Te Wairoa village during the eruption of Mount Tarawera in 1886. The building was covered in ash and surrounded by volcanic debris, but its occupants survived. It remained half buried until 1892 when Lord Onslow, then Governor General of New Zealand, had it removed and shipped to England.[4] There are only three other Māori meeting houses outside New Zealand.[6]

National Trust: 1956-present[edit]

Annual Māori festival at Clandon

Post World War II, ownership of Clandon Park fell into the hands of William Onslow, 6th Earl of Onslow. But like many aristocratic families, the cost of maintaining such a property in the new era was beyond their means. In 1956 his aunt Gwendolen, Countess Iveagh, a member of the Anglo-Irish Guinness family, and a former MP herself, bought Clandon Park from her private funds and immediately donated it—including Hinemihi—to the National Trust.[7][8]

The house was then extensively restored and redecorated under the direction of John Fowler. Fowler and his successors then began collecting together other appropriate pieces from the National Trusts extensive collections, and purchasing in notable pieces with a long-standing to the property. By 2000s the building housed: a fine collection of 18th century furniture and porcelain formed by Hannah, Mrs David Gubbay; the Ivo Forde Meissen collection of Italian comedy figures;[9] Mortlake tapestries; and other textiles and carpets.

Due to its extensive costs of upkeep, the National Trust gained a marriage license for the property, and it had become a popular local wedding venue. It was also in part or whole rented out occasionally to the media for various productions, including 2008's The Duchess starring Keira Knightley.[10]

Maori meeting house[edit]

The National Trust has refurbished the Maori meeting house or wharenui[11] replacing the roof, cleaning and repainting carvings, replacing carvings that were lost. The New Zealand Historic Places Trust and the British Museum were consulted over this. The meeting house is still important for cultural activities among the Maori.[12] The nature of Hinemihi and its meaning for the local and expatriate Maori community in London was explored by Cecilie Gravesen in her experimental film Between Humans and Other Things.[13] During the 2012 Summer Olympics, the New Zealand team visited Hinemihi.[14]

Surrey Infantry Museum[edit]

Colonel JW Sewell reached agreement with the National Trust to re-establish the Surrey Infantry Museum at Clandon Park. The museum opened in 1981 with exhibits including uniforms, medals, weapons, regalia, photographs and memorabilia. The regiment's archives and library are located at the Surrey History Centre in Woking.[15] After being upgraded in 2001, in July 2011 with part funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund the museum merged with those of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment to become The Surrey Infantry Museum.[16] The museum's displayed medal collection included six Victoria Crosses, including those awarded to: Lieutenant Wallace Duffield Wright; Lance Corporal Leonard James Keyworth; Corporal John McNamara; Second Lieutenant Arthur James Terence Fleming-Sandes.[17]

2015 fire[edit]

On the afternoon of 29 April 2015, a fire started in the house's basement, and quickly spread to the roof.[1] At 16:09 Surrey Fire and Rescue Service received an emergency call, and the fire was subsequently attended by a total of 16 fire engines and more than 80 personnel.[1] While fire fighters tackled the blaze National Trust volunteers were joined by conservators in recovering items from the house.[1] Items were first stored on the lawns then placed in bubble wrap and sent to a local storage unit.[1] Surrey Fire and Rescue Service remained at the property until the fire was fully extinguished and then began an investigation into the cause of the fire.[1][18]

A significant number of items were salvaged, but the house was left "essentially a shell" according to Dame Helen Ghosh, director general of the National Trust,[19] with the roof, ceilings and floors having fallen into the basement, leaving only one room intact.[20]

It is believed that among the items destroyed, were as least six Victoria Crosses and one of the footballs kicked across no-man’s land on the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916.[21] Although some of the paintings and furniture from the house were rescued many tapestries and some porcelain were damaged.[22] A large portrait of Richard Onslow, 1st Baron Onslow who was Speaker of the House of Commons in the early 18th century, was saved, after being cut from its frame.[23]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Clandon Park House in Surrey hit by major fire". BBC News. 29 April 2015. Archived from the original on 29 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Historic England. "Clandon Park (1294591)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  3. ^ Harrison, p.121, p.133
  4. ^ a b Greeves, Lydia (2006). History and Landscape: The Guide to National Trust Properties in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. National Trust Books. pp. 94–95. ISBN 978-1905400133. 
  5. ^ "History". National Trust. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  6. ^ "Clandon Park". Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  7. ^ Dunton, Jim. "Fire ravages grade I-listed Surrey mansion". Architects Journal. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  8. ^ Hinemihi at Clandon Park, National Trust, accessed 20 May 2010.[dead link]
  9. ^ "Ceramics at Clandon Park". National Trust. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "When Keira Knightley came to Clandon Park". Surrey Life. 21 September 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  11. ^ Maori meeting house
  12. ^ "West Clandon: The Maori meeting house (Hinemihi) - Clandon Park — Exploring Surrey's Past". Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  13. ^ Gravesen, C. 2012 Between Humans and Other Things: Conservation as Material Fabric in Contemporary Art. Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies 10(1), DOI:
  14. ^ "New Zealand Olympic team visits Surrey Maori meeting house". BBC. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  15. ^ "The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment". Surrey History Centre. Retrieved 9 March 2012. 
  16. ^ "Surrey Infantry Museum at Clandon Park". The Queen's Royal Surrey Regimental Association. Retrieved 22 October 2012. 
  17. ^ "Clandon Park House fire in Surrey destroys Victoria Crosses and priceless art — Daily Mail Online". Mail Online. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  18. ^ Stubbings, David (29 April 2015). "Clandon Park fire: 'Massive' amount of smoke seen from 18th century house". Get Surrey website (Trinity Mirror Southern). Archived from the original on 29 April 2015. 
  19. ^ "Clandon Park fire leaves Surrey stately home 'essentially a shell'". the Guardian. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  20. ^ "Clandon Park House fire: Mansion left a 'shell'". BBC. Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  21. ^ "Clandon Park left as a 'shell' after huge stately home fire". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  22. ^ Davies, Caroline (30 April 2015). "Clandon Park salvage operation under way after fire rips through stately home". Guardian. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 
  23. ^ Singh, Anita (30 April 2015). "Battle of the Somme football among priceless artifacts lost in Clandon Park blaze". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 1 May 2015. 


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