Hickling Hall fire: Grade II-listed home destroyed

Exterior view of Hickling Hall after it was gutted by fire
Image caption Fire crews remain at Hickling Hall as embers continue to burn in the rubble

An 18th Century home in Norfolk has been destroyed in a suspected chimney fire.

More than 50 firefighters from across Norfolk were called to the Grade II-listed Hickling Hall, Hickling, at about 19:50 GMT on Boxing Day.

Norfolk Fire Service said the three-floor hall on farmland was gutted.

The home, owned by Bernard Ellis, had been in the family for three generations and was described as a "landmark" in the village.

Image copyright Peter Marlow/YouTube
Image caption It is thought the fire broke out in a chimney
Image copyright Victoria Mobbs
Image caption At the height of the blaze more than 50 firefighters were at the scene

Roy Harrold, Norfolk's deputy chief fire officer, said: "We were called to a chimney fire, but the first arriving crews sent a message back immediately to say the fire was spreading to a bedroom upstairs," said Mr Harrold.

"Unfortunately, there were not very good water supplies in the area and the crews were unable to contain the fire and the whole properly was lost.

"It's a shell; the entire interior was destroyed. It's very sad to see as it was clearly a lovely building."

Image caption The fire gutted the inside of the building, leaving the structure unstable

Listed in 1955, according to British Listed Buildings, the two-storey property featured a dormer attic and large panelled lounge.

Sandra Clarke, chairman of Hickling Parish Council and a friend of the Ellis family, said: "I looked out of the window at the back of my house and saw it in flames.

Image copyright Mike Page
Image caption Many dignitaries have visited the hall during its 300-year history

'History gone'

"The whole of the upper floors and the roof were on fire, flames were going everywhere... it was so awful.

"Mr Ellis is devastated, as you can imagine. He's lived in the house for well over 40 years - he's lost absolutely everything."

She added the house had been "very important" for local dignitaries during its more than 300-year history.

"It's quite a landmark when you drive into Hickling, and obviously part of that history is gone," she said.

"It's a devastating thing, but most important is that no-one was injured."

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