Parnham House: ‘Adventure stays’ plan for arson attack estate

James Perkins

image captionJames Perkins said two ceilings had fallen in since he bought the property for £2.5m in March

A Grade I-listed stately home which was largely destroyed in a suspected arson attack is to be a base for “adventure” stays and visits, its owner has said.

Parnham House, near Beaminster, Dorset, was gutted by the fire in April 2017.

Its new owner, former rave scene promoter James Perkins, said his “unusual ideas” for the estate included roaming circus performers and giraffes.

Mr Perkins said he intended to submit a planning application to Dorset Council in January.

image copyrightDWFRS

image captionThe house was largely destroyed by fire in 2017
image copyrightDWFRS
image captionThe blaze destroyed most of the roof and many internal floors and walls

The fire broke out in the early hours of 15 April 2017 and took four days to extinguish fully.

Previous owner Michael Treichl was arrested on suspicion of arson and was found dead two months later.

Historic England previously said the house had been unprotected for two years after the blaze,

and it feared the “likely” collapse of external walls.

Its latest report, obtained by the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act, noted collapses in 2018 or 2019 of a roof, an internal room and a chimney.

It concluded: “The need for over-roofing and scaffolding support to the internal structure is becoming more critical.”

image captionHistoric England said stabilisation work was “critical” to prevent further collapses

Mr Perkins, 51, the former head of rave promoter Fantazia, said he paid about £2.5m for the estate in March.

He said: “Since I’ve been here, two ceilings have fallen in. If you allow yourself to get downhearted then you give up.”

He said he aimed to have scaffolding erected by Christmas, after Historic England previously offered to pay for stabilisation work.

Mr Perkins, who has restored other mansions, said the main buildings could become a “Batman house” with secret doors and contraptions.

He said the 131-acre estate would be transformed into “magical gardens” for stays, visits and events, with resident acrobats and architectural follies.

The entrepreneur said he hoped to welcome the first visitors in 2021.

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