A 16th century mansion remodeled by a Regency architect John Nash has been destroyed by fire after a suspected arson attack.
Parnham House, a Grade I listed property in Beaminster, Dorset, was home to the Strode family for 200 years.
During the Civil War, the widow of Sir John Strode, Lady Ann Strode, was killed by a Parliamentary soldier as she tried to protect Parnham.
Sir John, a lawyer by profession, became a Recorder for Bridport in 1614 and MP for the borough in 1621 and 1625.
Much of the current design of the property was created by Nash, who worked on the 19th Century enlargement of Buckingham Palace, in 1810.
His work on the stately home, which sits on grounds that include stone statues and topiary, can be recognised in the distinctive winding staircases and stone mullioned windows.
The mansion, now owned by an Austrian hedge fund manager, was engulfed by flames in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Twenty fire crews attended the blaze amid fears valuable 18th and 19th century paintings could have been destroyed or damaged.
Dorset Police said no one was injured in the blaze, which the force is treating as suspicious.
Photographer Graham Hunt, who witnessed the fire, said: "From what I could tell it looks like the roof is just completely gone, just the walls left standing."
Austrian hedge fund manager Michael Treichl and his wife Emma bought the mansion from previous owner John Makepeace in 2001.
Speaking of the extensive changes the couple had made to the property, Mrs Treichl told Dorset Life: "The children enjoy the atmosphere of suits of armour and endless games of hide and seek, and a house needs to be lived in for it to feel like a home and not a museum.
"We smoothed out the corners a little, but didn’t dent Parnham’s considerable history."
Mr Treichl's father Heinrich Treichl, whose mother was a baroness, was a former general manager of the now-collapsed Austrian bank Creditanstalt.
Michael Treichl is a founding-partner of London-based hedge fund Audley Capital Advisors.
US army infantry members are believed to have planned for D day within the walls of the property, which was built in 1522. It was later used as a country club and nursing home.
The Elizabethan house and grounds also featured in an episode of 1970s comedy show The Goodies, during which the cast were pursued through the gardens by a giant Dougal from The Magic Roundabout.
Andrew Vines, Planning Director for Historic England in the South West said: “We are saddened to hear of the fire at 16th century Grade I Parnham House in Beaminster, Somerset.
"Our conservation architects and engineers will be ready to advise if needed on the best ways of conserving what remains of the building. We are also working with Dorset Police to understand the cause of this fire.”