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The Old Baginton Hall

Baginton Hall - The Great Fire - Page 4


The situation is a charming one, and the Hall, being built upon an elevated piece of land, commands a fine view of the surrounding woodland country. An inscription on the west side reads, "Dii patrii,servate domum 1714," while over the terrace entrance the motto, " Pheonix Resurgens," throws another light upon its history. In the year 1706, the old Hall was burnt to the ground, while the head of the Bromley family was a member of the House of Commons. Intelligence of thin calamity was forwarded to the owner while attending his duties, and he allowed the debate to be concluded before he gave any intimation to the House of what had occurred. Immediately a considerable sum was voted by Parliament for the restoration of the structure, which was completed in 1714.

Queen Anne is stated to have visited the Hall and to have planted a cedar tree on the east lawn. The new mansion was capacious and altogether devoid of ostentation; it was, in fact, of a description suited to a country gentleman much given to hospitality. In different parts of the house were some valuable and interesting family portraits, amongst them being one of Lord Keeper Bromley and a whole length painting of the owner at the time of the fire which destroyed the old Hall. In the south chamber, known as the Bachelors Room, was hang a drawing of the former building, and this, as well as the other valuable paintings, were saved, although somewhat affected by the heat and smoke. In the library was a fine collection of Greek and Roman classics, and some curious original letters, several of which are said to have been written by royal hands. These, it is believed, have been saved, many of the bookcases having been lifted bodily out of the library on to the lawn. The estate was bought in the sixteenth year of King James the First by William Bromley, Esq, and has remained in the possession of the family ever since.

The Hall yesterday presented the appearance of a total wreck. From basement to roof the flames had made a clean sweep of everything of a combustible nature. The interior walls are left naked and bare, and it is only in the upper storey that even the plaster has been left. Not a vestige of the roof remains, and the windows on the terrace front have been divested of every fragment of their casements. There are seven windows in the upper storey, the same number in the centre, and three on each side of the portico. Each one bears traces of the fierce fury of the flames as they burst outwards. The eight steps to the entrance are covered with debris, the fluted columns peeled, and the carved capitals are broken, while standing by the side of the ruined doorway is a broken ornamental flower-pot. The ground floor of the mansion has gone completely, and the debris has fallen through into the cellars, where a few heaps of blackened timbers were still smouldering.

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