Fringe Box



Claire’s Column – Clandon’s Quest

Published on: 25 Jun, 2016
Updated on: 24 Jun, 2016

In this regular column – a must-read for all those interested in Guildford business – Claire Dee offers an insight into the Clandon Park fire and how local businesspeople can help.

Claire Dee.

Claire Dee.

As a keen blogger, I also run blogging courses at the hidden gem that is The Guildford Institute. And through my contacts there, I was able to recently attend a hugely interesting and insightful talk about Clandon Park’s rise from the ashes.

As many of you will know, Clandon Park is the National Trust Palladian mansion just outside Guildford which was hit by a devastating fire around a year ago. The fire made national media headlines as it swept through the building, leaving it nothing more than the shell we see today.

The talk, Clandon From The Ashes, was given by Clandon Park house manager Claire Nodder who witnessed it all.

“As a house manager, it was the worst thing that can happen,” she explained. “The wind was not kind to us as it further fanned the flames. However, the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service were so amazing and did everything they could to help us.”

So, one year on, where are they now?

After much consultation with a variety of experts including other historic sites which have experienced fire damage, the National Trust has made the decision to fully restore the building, although exactly how is still under review. It has announced ambitious plans to rebuild Clandon Park which will honour its rich history, but also create vibrant, modern spaces to breathe new life into the house.

Controversial some would say, but better that than not at all as Onslow family member Rupert Onslow has publicly stated. (Lady Gwendolen Onslow gave Clandon Park to the National Trust in the 1950s).

What was particularly fascinating about Claire Nodder’s talk was how 21st-century skills and technologies are being used to help rescue and revive an 18th-century building. From abseiling archeologists (yes, really!), to lead dust collecting incubators and the ubiquitous drones.

The salvage and renovation work will take some time meaning the house is unlikely to open to the public for another four to five years. Local businesses and businesspeople, however, can show their support by making a donation to ensure this historic jewel in Guildford’s crown is once more enjoyed by us all.

Claire Dee runs her own communications consultancy near Guildford, and is an active member of the local business community including sitting on the Surrey Chambers of Commerce Board and the Institute of Directors Surrey Committee. To learn more visit

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