The Burning Down of Sandon Hall, 1848

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Lord Hatherton's Journal, 6th June, 1848

[Lord Hatherton was at Stafford Station, seeing off his grandchildren.]

I heard that Sandon Hall was on fire and that one engine was gone there. But that there were two others, but no post horses, in town. I felt indignant at this slothfulness and insisted on sending off another engine with one horse. I sent an express to Penkridge for the engine at that place.

I went on to Sandon. We found the house in flames but burning slowly. The fire was occasioned by plumbers at work on the roof so the fire had to burn downwards and burnt slowly. On our arrival the top storey and the second floor on the garden side had been burnt. It was half past one when I arrived. Three engines, one good one and two very inferior were playing on the flames.

By 4 o'clock the whole of the interior of the house was consumed. The entrance hall, being quite the last thing to take fire, ignited all round at once and burnt quickly like a scene in a play.

All the valuable furniture, books, china and plate was saved and put out together on the grass in three places. I took it on myself to order a police man to employ a number of people to keep circles clear round the property and to let no one go within them and I strongly advised Mr. Harland, the excellent clergyman here, not to allow a cellar to be opened, however thirsty the men may be, on any account but to leave the contents to take their chance.

The wings of the house might possibly have been saved if, fearing the spread of the fire, they had not been violently dismantled and if the weighty cornices on the top of the house had not given way simultaneously and, falling on the lower roof of the wings, crushed them at once.

The Penkridge engine arrived with 4 horses in about 2 hours from the time I sent for it from Stafford.