Investigation into 'suspicious' fire at Grade l stately home in Dorset

A massive fire at an "exceptionally important" 16th century stately home in Dorset is being treated as suspicious by police.

A spokeswoman said Dorset Police were called to Grade l listed Parnham House in Beaminster at 4.10am.

Craig Baker, area manager for Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service, tweeted: "At the scene of a major fire in Beaminster, West Dorset. 20 pumps."

Later, he added on Twitter: "A devastating fire, crews have worked tirelessly. Remains a big firefighting operation!"

The police spokeswoman said: "Officers are currently at the scene assisting with the fire service who are tackling the extensive blaze.

"It is not believed anyone was inside the property and there are no reports of any injuries."

She added: "At this stage the cause of the fire is unknown; however, police are treating it as suspicious and an investigation is under way."

Historic England describes Parnham House as an "exceptionally important mid-C16 house".

It was renovated in the early 1800s after being built in 1522.

It was bought by furniture designer John Makepeace in 1976, who ran his School for Craftsmen in Wood there.

Extensive renovation was carried out by Michael and Emma Treichl, who bought it in 2001.

Anyone with information is asked to call Dorset Police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

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