An eighteenth century Worcestershire manor house, left with just four walls standing after a fire, has finally reopened after a £5 million rebuild.
Spring Grove House, the sumptuous banqueting suite set in the grounds of West Midland Safari Park, at Bewdley, was hit by a major fire on Christmas Eve 2006.
It took up to 50 firefighters to bring the blaze under control, with water being drawn from the Hippo Lake when the engines ran dry.
Despite the outstanding effort by services, the fire ripped through the house to leave just four walls standing. Lots of archives from the Safari Park were sadly lost.
It is believed the fire was started by an electrical fault.
Wendy Jackson, from West Midlands Safari Park, Bewdley, Worcestershire, said: “We have always been very proud of Spring Grove house and were devastated by the fire.
“It was the worst possible time. I remember I was preparing breakfast on Christmas morning when I got the call.
“We couldn’t believe it had happened. I didn’t expect it to be as bad as it was, with just four walls standing, it was heartbreaking.
“But that is the past and it’s time to move forward.”
The new Spring Grove House has been rebuilt as the 18th century Georgian manor house it originally was.
However, any hint of ‘Victoriana’ has been replaced by colonial elegance.
This suits its safari park location as it resembles a luxurious African residence transported from the great plains of Africa, making it a completely unique destination for events and parties.
It seems fitting that the first major series of events will be to celebrate the festive season. This is all the more poignant as in the early days following the fire, the building was so badly damaged that it was uncertain whether it could be saved at all.
Staff have worked painstakingly with English Heritage, the Wyre Forest Conservation Team, architects and interior designers and employed as many local craftsmen as possible throughout the rebuild.
So exacting was the criteria that was set, the build has taken two years longer to complete than anticipated
Wendy added: “It’s been a long time in the making but the new Spring Grove House has immense charm.”