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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 January, 2005, 11:36 GMT
Stately home 'to rise from ashes'
Allerton Castle fire
About one-third of the house was wrecked in the blaze
The owner of a stately home ravaged by fire has pledged to restore the Grade I listed building to its former glory.

About a third of Allerton Castle, near Knaresborough in North Yorkshire, was destroyed in the blaze which started in a chimney early on Saturday.

US tycoon Dr Gerald Rolph, who bought the ancestral home of Baron Stourton in 1983, said: "We will restore it."

Fire crews remained at the scene on Sunday as an investigation continued into the cause.

Police have said there were no suspicious circumstances and nobody was hurt.

Dr Gerald Rolph
Dr Rolph plans to get the house up and running as soon as possible

A North Yorkshire Fire Service spokeswoman said crews had been at the scene all night monitoring "hot spots" and keeping an eye on parts of the structure thought to be unsafe.

She said: "The investigation into the cause will continue but this is likely to go well into next week."

Dr Rolph said damage to the building, although extensive, was not as devastating as first feared.

"About two-thirds of the house has survived," he said.

"However, the biggest loss is the dining room, which is probably the finest carved wood room outside the Houses of Parliament.

"It is totally gone with its stained glass windows, which is a tragic loss to English and world heritage."

Allerton Castle fire
Smoke billowed from the collapsed roof of the building

The library had also suffered severe water damage but the house's 80ft-high Great Hall had survived the blaze.

The hall's huge handmade Persian carpet was rescued but was so heavy it needed 13 firemen to carry it outside.

"This has been very distressing," said Dr Rolph. "But I have been involved with the house for over 20 years now and we are going to rebuild it.

"It is a matter now of stabilising what we have and evaluating with English Heritage what we can do to go forward."

English Heritage said: "Now and in the weeks to come we will be offering our support and expertise to assess the nature and extent of the damage and the best way to bring the building back into full use."

'Open for business'

The house is now used as a private residence as well as being hired out for weddings and conferences.

Its website said on Sunday: "Despite fire damage to certain rooms, the castle remains open for business".

A spokeswoman for the castle said they were confident a wedding booked for a week on Saturday would go ahead.

"Dr Rolph is determined to get the castle operational again and we will pull out all the stops for the bride's big day," she said.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Yorkshire stately home almost destroyed by fire



SEE ALSO:
Crews remain at stately home fire
23 Jan 05 |  North Yorkshire
Fire 'almost wrecks' stately home
22 Jan 05 |  North Yorkshire


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