The greatest threat: fire strikes at Tidmington House, Warwickshire

Tidmington House, Warwickshire (Image: Philip Halling/Geograph)

Tidmington House, Warwickshire (Image: Philip Halling/Geograph)

With sad co-incidence, having recently posted about how owners respond to fires in country houses, news comes through that Tidmington House in Warwickshire was badly damaged whilst undergoing renovations.

Tidmington was built in the early 17th-century but was re-fronted in the 18th-century giving it a pleasing and elegant facade, which is visible from the road. Distinctive gables top a neat front which successfully mixes Elizabethan elements with the classical.  The recessed central section runs from a smaller middle gable featuring a Diocletian (or thermal) window, above a first floor tripartite Venetian window, sometimes known as Palladian or Serlian after the two architects most associated with popularising it, with finally the two wings being joined by a Tuscan colonnade.  Two 1-bay pavilions extend to the left and right, providing a clever balance to the height of the main house.

The grade-II* listed house was once the home of Thomas Beecham, 2nd son of the famous conductor, before being put up for sale in 2009 for £3.95m by the owners who had moved there in 1988.  The house was then given a glowing write-up in The Times by Marcus Binney who relished the bold use of colour; the sky-blue library, the jade green dining room – but I wonder if the bold colours in the house contributed to the situation as it was during renovations by the new owners that the fire started.

The blaze is reported to have badly damaged the first floor where the fire started and also part of the ground floor but hopefully a majority of the 8,500 sq ft house will have been spared from the flames – though the inevitable smoke and water damage will have spread beyond the immediate blaze.  Again, it shows that insurance companies are right to demand to be told when works are taking place as it is so often during renovations when these fires seem to break out – please don’t let this be another workman being careless with a blow-torch.

More details: ‘Country house is hit by fire‘ [Cotswold Journal]

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About Matthew Beckett - The Country Seat

An amateur architectural historian with a particular love of UK country houses in all their many varied and beautiful forms.
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7 Responses to The greatest threat: fire strikes at Tidmington House, Warwickshire

  1. Jim Webster says:

    Being a closet-country-house fan I like your articles quite a lot.

    One thing I always felt was that there was a need for an rss feed that listed the houses that came up for sale.. oh okay I admit it – I’m getting fed up going through endless estate agent sites seeing what is up for sale and what condition it is in 😉

    • Andrew says:

      Jim, I agree, but I’ve not seen a “Listed Country House” or “Historic House” category established for rss and I’m not sure what it would take to get one. Perhaps countryhouses may have further experiences or comments as a result of his searching for news stories for this blog. In the mean time, is it worth considering setting up another blog, or even an entry here, to quickly record new sale listings? I was considering setting up a page on Wikipedia.org to list one line for each county house for sale, with links to the agents’ sale details web pages, but I don’t think Wiki is keen on having constantly changing lists on their website, unless it was perhaps in its projects area. Have you looked at agents websites such as http://www.knightfrank.co.uk/RSS/ – click on the “Country Houses for sale” option? But its the identification and consolidation of all the agents that’s still a pain. Does anyone else have any better ideas?

      • countryhouses says:

        @ Jim: thanks – glad find it interesting.

        @Andrew: this is something I’ve been trying to bring together as a page for the blog however Knight Frank are the only one of the major country house estate agents to provide a suitable RSS feed. I was also exploring having a set of links to saved searches for appropriate properties but unfortunately most of the agent’s websites are set up for searching individual counties and not the UK as a whole. Similarly, PrimeLocation allows a search for all Wales, Scotland Northern/Central/Southern, but England is split by county. I’ve managed to combine them so that it covers Wales and Scotland but more work is needed to get it cover England.

  2. Andrew says:

    To get a better idea of how to approach the issue of tracking country houses currently for sale, lets look at possible ideal end results and then see how to get there more easily (if not automatically). My preference, after receiving an unedited feed of country houses being listed for sale, would be to order them as such:

    Top 10 Country Seats for sale in Britain & Ireland:

    1. Lyons House, County Kildare, Ireland – €50m, 600 acres, Grade National Importance, 1785
    http://www.christiesgreatestates.com/properties/view_84485
    2. Pusey House, Oxfordshire, England – £27m, 643 acres, Grade II*, 1750
    http://search.knightfrank.com/cho080441
    3. Leys Castle, Invernesshire, Scotland – £7m, 3,173 acres, Grade A, 1833
    http://search.knightfrank.com/edn090204
    4. Bellamont Forest, County Cavan, Ireland – €7.5m, 1,060 acres, Grade National Importance, 1730
    http://search.knightfrank.com/gwr100023
    5. Blairquhan Castle, Ayrshire, Scotland – £4.85m, 670 acres, Grade A, 1842
    http://www.savills.co.uk/residentialsearch/propertydetail.aspx?pID=261856
    http://www.blairquhan.co.uk
    6. Noseley Hall, Leicestershire, England – £14m, 1,264 acres, Grade II*, 1725
    http://search.knightfrank.com/cho080427
    7. Chesters House, Northumberland, England – £6.5m, 178 acres, Grade II*, 1771 (includes English Heritage Roman Fort Museum)
    http://www.savills.co.uk/residentialsearch/propertydetail.aspx?pID=250880
    8. Dowdeswell Court, Gloucestershire, England – £7.9m, 8 acres, Grade II, 1834
    http://search.knightfrank.com/cho070526
    9. Llanerchydol Hall, Powys, Wales – £2.45m, 73 acres, Grade II*, 1776
    http://www.savills.co.uk/residentialsearch/propertydetail.aspx?pID=75946
    10. Mourne Park House, County Down, Northern Ireland – £6.5m, 140 acres, Grade B+, 1806
    http://www.templetonrobinson.co.uk/brochure.php?p=TRLTRL60660&s=106772778&i=0&c=17&r=1
    http://www.mournepark.co.uk

    Kinross House (http://search.knightfrank.com/edn090033) has been excluded because it’s under offer. Unfortunately, there wasn’t room for Shipton Manor in Oxfordshire (http://search.knightfrank.com/oxf052119), formerly owned by Richard Branson and Virgin Records 1971-95 and used as recording studios (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Manor_Studio). Plenty of other houses to see on http://search.knightfrank.com/office/property-for-sale/united-kingdom/country-department

    Naturally, defining the ‘best’ is very subjective and personal, but generally is based on the size and style of the house, its listing grade, the size of the estate and the history of the house and families. The price may not reflect these, depending on its location relative to major cities. For this list I have included at least one house from each of the 5 ‘country’ regions. Please comment if you feel a worthwhile house has been omitted or if one is significantly out of order.

  3. ldm says:

    Sad to see that 3 (4 if you include Kinross House) are being sold by descendants of the families that built them – Blairquhan, Noseley and Mourne Park House.

  4. Andrew says:

    Another property being sold by the descendants of the families that built them is the 1,000-acre Hulton Park Estate in Lancashire, belonging to the 1958-demolished Hulton Hall (http://www.flickr.com/photos/architec/4499688780), now under offer at £8.5m, having been on the market for 5 months, for the first time since 1167 when purchased by the Hulton family:
    http://www.smithsgore.co.uk/property-for-sale-over-hulton-536331
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/manchester/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8675000/8675551.stm
    http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/8116570.__8_5m_price_tag_for_historic_estate

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