^ Home
< Back
? Search
Print this page

 

Architecture

Census

Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

Directory Listings

Education

Genealogy

History

Industry

Parish Records

People

Places

Transportation

War Memorials

FIRE AT CASTLE HILL, FILLEIGH

 

Castle Hill, Filleigh, in the 18th century

Castle Hill - an18th century steel engraving

The home of the Fortescue family

 

On 9 March 1934, the following report appeared in the Western Times:

LORD FORTESCUE HELPS FIRE FIGHTERS

OUTBREAK IN THE CELLARS AT CASTLE HILL

DENSE SMOKE AND FUMES

 

"A fire, which occurred late on Wednesday night (7 March 1934) at Castle Hill, Filleigh, the residence of Earl Fortescue, was dealt with very promptly by the South Molton fire brigade and damage was confined to the underground cellars in which the fire originated. Lord Fortescue assisted in the work of subduing the outbreak and supervised the efforts of members of his staff.

The fire was discovered when the smell of smoke became apparent and Lord Fortescue and one of the staff went down into the cellars to investigate. Owing to the density of the fumes, they could not reach the seat of the fire, and the South Molton Brigade, under Captain W. H. Hawkes was summoned.

 

The Brigade had left within 3 minutes of the call and on arrival at Castle Hill, the firemen found that crude oil burners, forming part of the heating apparatus in the cellars, had become ignited on the outside, and the whole place was full of smoke.

 

They had considerable difficulty in reaching the apparatus, but an ample supply of water eventually got the outbreak under control, the brigade returning between 2.0 and 3.0am this morning. Assistance was rendered by Sergeant Annett and P. C. Colman of South Molton and P.C Baxter of Chittlehampton, and the South Molton St. John Ambulance Brigade, under Superintendent G. E. Bowden was in attendance.

 

Damage was done to the heating apparatus and electrical plant. The fire might have had more serious consequences had it not been for the prompt arrival of the fire brigade, for the apparatus is situated right below the centre of the mansion.

 

Lord Fortesque commended the firemen on the efficient manner in which they had dealt with the outbreak.

 

Just one day later, the Express & Echo ( a daily newspaper) had more, much more, to report:

10th March 1934

TWO LIVES LOST AT CASTLE  HILL

TERRIBLE NIGHT BLAZE

DESPERATE EFFORTS TO REACH TRAPPED HOUSEKEEPER

Castle Hill House, Filleigh, the residence of Earl and Countess Fortescue, one of the largest mansions in North Devon, was the scene of a disastrous fire which was discovered in the early hours of the morninig.

 

The lives of two women members of the household staff were lost. One of the maids, who was rescued from the burning building in a state of collapse, died soon afterwards, while the housekeeper perished in the flames despite unavailing efforts of the would-be rescuers to reach her.

 

So far, her remains have not been discovered, and she is believed to have perished in the burning debris when the roof collapsed.

 

The names of the victims are:

Miss Mary Ellen Vincent, Housekeeper, who has been employed at Castle Hill, in the service of the late Earl and the present Earl for 23 years - and

Joyce Davie, a maid, who belonged to Chapleton, Umberleigh.

 

These two, with two other maids, were the only occupants of the mansion at the time, Earl Fortescue being at Thorpe, Melton Mowbray, his othe seat; but sleeping over the tables in the courtyard, were eight members of the firm of Messrs Keeble of Calisle House, Soho, London, who had been engaged since January 6th on extensive alterations and redecoration of the mansion.

 

 

 
 
^ Home
< Back
? Search
Print this page