National Trust seeks people's memories of devastating 1960 mansion fire near Alresford

National Trust seeks people's memories of devastating 1960 mansion fire near Alresford

Fire crews at the scene in 1960

Clearing the drawing room

Working on the restoration in 1962-63. Recognise anyone?

First published in Winchester Romsey Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by

THE National Trust is appealing for people’s memories of a blaze that nearly destroyed a Hampshire stately home in 1960.

Hinton Ampner House near Alresford is marking the 50th anniversary of its restoration in 1963.

The National Trust, which is hosting a vintage weekend garden party in May to commemorate its rise from the ashes, is appealing for help to tell this chapter in its history.

Louise Washington, Hinton Ampner’s visitor experience officer, said: “A major part of the garden party weekend will be the unveiling of a new exhibition recounting people’s personal recollections and experiences of the fire.

“The history books record the blaze in detail, but we would like to tell the story of the people involved in the fire, and the subsequent restoration of the house.

“Those people were the true heroes, and many of their stories will have gone unwritten, but without them, the house could not have been restored to its former glory. This is where we need help from the public.”

She would like to hear from anyone who has memories of the blaze, no matter how big or small a part they played in it. They may be firemen, builders, craftsmen, or local residents. Photographs would also be very welcome.

“We’ve already recorded some wonderful audio stories for the exhibition, but it would be great to add to the collection; we’d love people to get in contact,” said Louise.

Hinton Ampner was the home of Ralph Dutton, the 8th Lord Sherborne who died in 1986.

The house was ravaged by fire in 1960, and restoration took three years. In 1963 Lord Sherborne invited local residents and those involved in the fire and the restoration to a garden party to celebrate the newly restored interiors.

Visitors to this year’s 1960s-themed garden party on May 25-27 will see parts of the house presented as if the builders are just putting the final touches to the rooms.

There will be 1960s music, vintage vehicles, a children’s design competition, a chance to peek behind a fake bookcase to glimpse hidden fire-blackened brickwork, and to see the Drawing Room’s original fire-damaged Georgian chandelier.

On May 25, everyone is invited to bring a picnic to soak up the party atmosphere.

Call Louise on 01962 771305 or emai louise.washington@nationaltrust.org.uk with your memories.

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