|Status||Gutted by fire|
|Location||West Clandon, Surrey|
|Client||Thomas, 2nd Baron Onslow|
|Design and construction|
|Other designers||Lancelot Brown (Garden)|
|Designations||Grade I listed|
Clandon Park is an early 18th-century grade I listed Palladian mansion in West Clandon, near Guildford in Surrey, England. It was long a seat of the Onslow family. It has been owned since 1956 by the National Trust. The house was substantially damaged by fire in April 2015, which left it "essentially a shell". In January 2016, the National Trust announced that some of the principal rooms on the ground floor would be fully restored to the original 18th century designs, and upper floors will be used for exhibitions and events.
The house was built, or perhaps thoroughly rebuilt, in about 1730–33 (the latter date is on rainwater leads), by Thomas Onslow, 2nd Baron Onslow (1679-1740) to the design of the Venetian architect Giacomo Leoni. It replaced an Elizabethan house. The estate with Elizabethan mansion house (together with Temple Court Farm at Merrow) had been purchased in 1641 from Sir Richard Weston of nearby Sutton Place, by Sir Richard Onslow, MP for Surrey in the Long Parliament, great-grandfather of Thomas Onslow, 2nd Baron Onslow who rebuilt it. 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, completed in the 1740s, featured a two-storey Marble Hall, containing marble chimney pieces by the Flemish sculptor Michael Rysbrack, and a rococo plasterwork ceiling by Italian-Swiss artists Giuseppe Artari and Bagutti. During World War I Clandon Park was used as a military hospital.
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, (William Hillier Onslow, the 4th Earl) then Governor General of New Zealand, had it removed and shipped to England. There are only three other Māori meeting houses outside New Zealand.
National Trust: 1956–present
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.
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; Mortlake tapestries; and other textiles and carpets.
Due to its extensive costs of upkeep, the National Trust gained a marriage licence 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.
Maori meeting house
The National Trust has refurbished the Maori meeting house or wharenui 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. 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. During the 2012 Summer Olympics, the New Zealand team visited Hinemihi.
Surrey Infantry Museum
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. 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. 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.
On the afternoon of 29 April 2015, a fire started in the house's basement, and quickly spread to the roof. 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. While fire fighters tackled the blaze, National Trust volunteers were joined by conservators in salvaging furniture and works of art. Items were first stored on the lawns then placed in bubble wrap and sent to a local storage unit. The fire and rescue service remained at the property until the fire had been fully extinguished and then began an investigation into the cause of the fire.
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, with the roof, ceilings and floors having fallen into the basement, leaving just one room intact. At 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 were among the thousands of historic items destroyed. Although some paintings and furniture were rescued by staff, many tapestries and some items of porcelain were heavily damaged. 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. An official investigation concluded that the fire was probably caused by a fault on an electrical distribution board in the basement.
In January 2016, the National Trust announced that a number of the principal rooms were going to be restored to the original 18th-century designs, and the "less architecturally significant" upper floors were to be fully modernised for holding exhibitions, events and performances. The cost of the restoration work is being funded by an insurance payout estimated at £65 million. A spokesman for the trust said it would also be asking supporters for donations to cover any shortfall in the budget.
Rupert Onslow, the 8th Earl of Onslow, whose family were the last private owners of Clandon, criticised the decision to build "a replica" of the house, saying the money would be better spent on adding new properties to the National Trust's collection. However, the trust said the insurance policy did not allow it to spend the money elsewhere, and it could only be spent at Clandon. The Georgian Group welcomed the decision, calling the fire a national tragedy, and lending support for the restoration project.
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