Police are treating the cause of a inferno at a stately home as ‘suspicious’
Grade I listed Parnham House was left a smouldering ruin after the “suspicious” blaze, which broke out just after 4am.
The privately owned Elizabethan manor house in Beaminster, Dorset, dates back to the early 16th century and had retained many of the original features.
A spokesman for Dorset police said: “Officers arrived at 4.25am to find an extensive fire at the premises – all occupants were accounted for.
“At this stage the cause of the fire is unknown.
“However, police are treating it as suspicious and an investigation is under way.”
Fire crews were continuing to dampen down the fire early yesterday afternoon Eyewitness Graham Hunt, a photographer, said: “There were still at least eight or nine fire engines there by late morning and still a lot of smoke coming out of the house.
Grade I listed Parnham House was left a smouldering ruin after the blaze
“From what I could tell it looks like the roof is just completely gone, it’s just the walls left standing.”
It looks like the roof is just completely gone
Parnham House is described as an “exceptionally important mid-16th century house” by Historic England.
It was originally built for Robert Strode and Elizabeth Hody in 1522 and has a fascinating past.
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Lady Strode was killed while defending the home from Thomas Fairfax, commander-in-chief of the Parliamentarians, during the English Civil War in July 1645.
Parnham House is described as an 'exceptionally important mid-16th century house'
More recently, the house and grounds featured in a memorable episode of 1970s comedy show The Goodies, during which the cast were pursued through the gardens by a giant Dougal from The Magic Roundabout.
Furniture designer John Makepeace bought the property in 1976 and ran his School for Craftsmen in Wood in the house.
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An eyewitness said that it looked liked the roof had 'completely gone'
Parnham was then passed on to the current owners, Michael and Emma Treichl in 2001, who carried out further renovation.
Craig Baker, area manager for Dorset and Wiltshire fire service, tweeted that at the height of the blaze there were 20 crews attending the scene, as well as an aerial ladder platform and water carrier.
He said: “A devastating fire, crews have worked tirelessly. Remains a big fire fighting operation!”