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The Old Baginton Hall

Baginton Hall - The Great Fire - Page 5

In the conservatory on the terrace side the broken windows nearest the Hall show where the first jet of water was thrown upon the flames. Lead from the roof has poured down to the basement and cooled in huge masses. It is remarkable how little of the fine timber in the building is left; nothing but a few relics of immense beams are to be seen, and of the grand polished oak staircase not a vestige has survived. At the north wing, the drawing-room casements remain in three of the four windows, but the interior walls are disfigured and discoloured with heat and smoke, and the ceiling is stained with water, where the second jet was brought into play. Large pieces of stone have fallen, and others are crumbling away from the face of the building. The proud motto, "Phoenix resurgent" is nearly hidden by the blackening stains of the smoke. In the conservatory many of the plants are untouched, and it is here that the fire was kept under control, The south entrance is nearly blocked by a heap of wreckage, the framework of a small iron bedstead that had fallen from one of the top bedrooms being uppermost. Here, too, by the door side, is a portable fire engine, with its leather straps burnt and singed, and still containing a small quantity of water. Several of these engines were placed in different parts of the Hall and three were bought to play on the flames directly they were discovered in the lamp room. The engine on the doorstep was one of those actually used. On the front facing the carriage drive which the flames attacked last. there is a repetition of the burnt-out windows but the porch has not suffered so severely on the terrace side.

Remaining quit intact is the iron bell-pull on the right hand side of the burnt-out doorway. One window only out of the twenty on this front unbroken and the exterior of the building here has not been affected as the wind blew the flames inward from the west.

Evidences of the searching nature of the fire lay around the building. Near together were pieces of burnt joists, broken glass, a bell, a pair of tongs, a champagne bottle, splinters of furniture, a fire guard—a miscellaneous assortment fallen or thrown from various parts of the house. The large billiard table, burnt only from its legs in order to get it away from the building, lay on the lawn, while the grass beaten and trampled down showed that many hurrying and I hasty feet had worn it nearly bare. Neither have the flower beds and shrubs escaped! those nearest the Hall being considerably damaged. It is only too evident that the fire was one of the most destructive that has occurred for a considerable period in a building of the solidity and massive proportions of the Hall.

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