PHOTOS: Blaze rips through a historic home in East Devon after a suspected arson attack

These photos show the aftermath of a blaze that ripped through a historic home in East Devon in an overnight suspected arson attack.

East Devon historic home blaze: Police arrest two teenagers and Poltimore House launches Crowdfunding campaign to begin repairs

Years of work costing thousands went up in smoke when Poltimore House, near Broadclyst, in East Devon, was believed to have been torched in what police are calling a ‘suspicious’ fire.

Scores of calls were made to the fire service in the early hours of Tuesday morning (April 9) by motorists driving along the M5 who spotted a blaze at nearby Poltimore House, on the outskirts of Exeter.

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A suspected arson attack has destroyed Poltimore House.
Photo: Ottery Fire Station.

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Photo: with permission/Alison Bolt.

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Firefighters tackled the blaze through the night.
Photo: Ottery Fire Station.

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The view inside from the front porch and hall, which had been refurbished with £50,000 grant money.
Photo: East Devon News.

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The main porch  and hall before the fire. Photo: with permission/Paula Fernley.

Grade II listed Poltimore House hit the headlines in 2003 when it was featured on BBC2’s Restoration programme, with Griff Rhys Jones.

Dr Peter Totterdill, chair of Poltimore House Trust, said he was ‘shocked’ at the level of destruction.

He said the charity was ‘determined’ to salvage whatever it could from the remains of the house, revealing a structural engineer and architect were due to inspect the charred shell on Wednesday (April 10).

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The scene from inside the front door of the house.
Photo: East Devon News.

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The blaze warped the metal protecting what was left of the roof area of the building.
Photo: East Devon News.

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The replica glass in the windows, costing £6,000, has been destroyed.
Photo: East Devon News.

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Charred beams can be seen inside the front entrance.
Photo: East Devon News.

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Daylight can be seen coming through the top of the house, where the fire raged.
Photo: East Devon News.

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Peter Totterdill, chair of Poltimore House Trust, surveys the damage.
Photo: East Devon News.

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All the ornate plasterwork inside the house has been destroyed.
Photo: East Devon News.

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All that remains is the brick walls of the house. Photo: East Devon News.

Dr  Totterdill said the volunteers had spent the last 24 years keeping the premises safe and restoring the house for the community.

He said the charity was set to launch a Crowdfunding campaign in a bid to start repairing the destruction.

He said: “This amazing place has been loved by so many people over the years, and my heart goes out to all the many volunteers who have worked so hard to protect and restore Poltimore House.

“I was at the house all morning and am shocked at the scale of the devastation.

“I know that many people are distraught by what has happened and we are all feeling a deep sense of loss.”

Devon and Cornwall Police said: “Police are investigating a suspicious fire at Poltimore House in Devon.

“Officers were notified of the fire overnight between Monday 8 April and Tuesday 9 April and later requested to attend by the fire service.

“The incident is being treated as a suspected arson and police are appealing for anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious around the time of the fire to contact them.”

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The scene the morning after. Smoke billows from the house.
Photo: East Devon News.

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The interior before the fire. Photo: with permission/Paula Fernley.

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The inside of the house from the front porch, where the staircase once stood, hours after the blaze.
Photo: East Devon News.

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All that remains of the house is the charred shell.
Photo: East Devon News.

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The view inside from the front porch and hall, which had been refurbished with £50,000 grant money.
Photo: East Devon News.

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Peter Totterdill outside the front entrance of the house.
Photo: East Devon News.

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Poltimore House after the fire.
Photo: East Devon News.

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The replica 18th century glass in the windows windows has been destroyed.
Photo: East Devon News.

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Poltimore House has been destroyed in a suspected arson attack.
Photo: East Devon News.

Crews tackled the blaze through the night, with firefighters from across Devon and Somerset staying on-site until around 5.30am on Tuesday morning.

Additional crews remained overnight on Tuesday, dampening down any hot spots.

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Firefighters remained overnight at the scene to damp down any hot spots.
Photo: East Devon News.

A Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: “Fire control received several 999 calls reporting a fire in a derelict property just outside of Exeter.

“Two fire engines were initially sent, however information gained from other callers, fire control mobilised a third fire engine.

“On arrival crews confirmed this derelict property was fully involved in fire and requested a further three fire Engines  – six in total – two aerial ladder platforms and two water bowsers.

“Crews used multiple jets to extinguish the fire.”

The blaze gutted the inside of the 370-year-old Grade II listed house, which for more than 20 years has been painstakingly restored to its former glory by a group of volunteers and charity fundraisers.

All that remained on Tuesday afternoon was a smouldering shell and some interior walls; the blaze destroyed all the ornate plasterwork inside, recently-replaced replica 18th century glass in the windows, and work to reinstate the porch and hall, made possible by a £50,000 grant.

The building could not be insured.

The house, which dates back to the 1500s, was built by the Bampfylde family and over the years was transformed into a girls’ school, college and hospital.

It is now owned by The Poltimore House Trust, a registered charity.

  • If you have information to help the police investigation into the fire, call 101, or report it online, quoting crime reference 50240083403.

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