The Fire


On a late October night in 1820, the house burned down. The fire started in a maid’s room on the top floor and spread so fast that by dawn there was nothing left but the charred walls. Lady Williams Wynne (born Charlotte Grenville) wrote to a friend the next week:

“The principal event was one of which you will not hear without concern knowing how much it will have given to me. It is the destruction of poor old Wotton which burnt to the ground of Monday last, thank God without loss of any lives. The poor infant was in the greatest danger and saved only by the exertions of Lord Temple’s servant. The fire broke out at half past two in the room next to the nursery and at half past five when the express was sent off nothing was left but the walls”.

She recorded in a second letter:

“The poor people at Wotton after having worked like horses as long as there was anything to be done sat themselves down in front of the poor old walls and cried. Pray tell Mary for her satisfaction that it was the nurse and not the valet who saved the child. She did not get her out of the room til she saw the line of black smoke running along the beam and in ten minutes after the ceiling fell in. The fire having broken out at the top of the house could not force its way through the copper roof and beat down on the wooden staircases which were at each end and in the middle of the house”.