Remembering the devastating fire at Wrest

The north front of Wrest House after the fire with rescued furniture in the foreground. From a private collection.
The north front of Wrest House after the fire with rescued furniture in the foreground. From a private collection.

A one-off event is taking place at Wrest Park to commemorate the centenary of a devastating fire which took place at the property.

The Wrest On Fire! event tomorrow (Thursday) will tell visitors more about the blaze and how it led to the closure of the auxiliary hospital which operated at Wrest Park during the First World War.

Visitors will be able to join Wrest Park’s historian, Andrew Hann, for an introductory talk describing the events of the fire including the evacuation of patients and the efforts made to extinguish the blaze by local fire crews.

Wrest Park’s Volunteer History Group will also be running tours of the gardens which will focus specifically on areas relevant to the 1916 fire. Throughout the day an exhibition about the fire including photographs, diary entries and newspaper articles of the time will also be displayed in the mansion house.

English Heritage historian Andrew Hann said: “This event will allow visitors to learn more about Wrest Park and its role during the war, as well as telling the fascinating story of how the fire unfolded and the battle to extinguish 
it quickly.”

Wrest Park’s historians and well-established Volunteer History Group have been able to piece together a detailed account of the fire through newspaper reports and diary extracts of Nan Herbert, who helped set up the hospital and served as its matron.

Talks will be held at 11am, 1pm and 3pm and the Volunteer History Group will be running guided tours at 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm. Tickets cost £9.80. Visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/wrestpark for more information.