Cambridgeshire

Chilford Hall owner 'sorry' for wedding barn arsonists

Chilford Hall fire damage
Image caption Chilford Hall's wedding barn and adjoining rooms were burned down last June

The owner of an historic wedding venue says she feels "sorry" for the men who burned it down, a year after the blaze.

The 19th Century barn at Chilford Hall in Linton, Cambridgeshire, was destroyed in the fire which drew in fire crews from three counties.

Thomas Richardson and Mark Hall, from Haverhill, Suffolk, were jailed in February for the £5m arson.

Owner Fiona Alper said she did not want to "bear grudges" against the pair and vowed to "get on with life".

Cambridge Crown Court heard Richardson, 27, was employed at the countryside venue three years before the fire, but was sacked for stealing alcohol and had long held a grudge.

Richardson admitted arson, but Hall was found guilty by a jury.

Mrs Alper said more than 100 weddings were affected by the fire and she was still awaiting a payout from insurers.

"You've got to get on with life and in a way I sort of feel sorry for them - they did have problems and I just hope they're getting the help they needed.

"We did lose a lot, but the firemen did save my house. We were so lucky it was such a calm morning - if it had been windy my house would have gone up as well or the winery."

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