01 August 2019 18:51
Get the biggest daily news stories by email Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Could not subscribe, try again later Invalid Email A 600-year-old stately home has been evacuated after being hit by "devastating" floods that nearly destroyed all the artifacts inside. National Trust staff worked through the night to save dozens of priceless antiques at Lyme Park, near Stockport, after water swept into the building, destroying its 17-acre gardens and lavish interiors. The Grade-II listed mansion and estate was evacuated yesterday afternoon after flood waters swept through the building as staff and visitors fled to safety. Shocking pictures show muddy floodwaters flowing into the mansion's Timber Yard in a river-like trail, leaving pools of water several feet deep. Rescuers were deployed to help several members of the public who were trapped between flood waters and were unable to reach their vehicles.
The 15th Century Sarum Missal - said to be the most important book in the National Trust collection - was rescued from the building. Staff are now carrying out a mass cleaning operation. The gardens, including the reflection lake made famous by Colin Firth's version of Pride and Prejudice, bore some of the worst of the damage, with paths, fences and planting washed away by the force of the waters. National Trust staff and conservation specialists are on site today to assess the extent of the damage to buildings, paths and roads. They've also begun cleaning up the debris and mud left by the waters inside the Grade II-listed house.
Lyme's lead ranger Chris Dunkerley said they are "unable to say" when Lyme Park will reopen to the public. (Image: National Trust) He added: "This morning, there is widespread and extensive damage to paths and roads around Lyme, especially close to the streams and ponds that overflowed their banks. "We've taken the decision to remain closed to ensure we don't put any members of the public at risk, and so that we can start the repair work. "At this point, we're unable to say when Lyme and the wider estate will reopen to the public, but we encourage members of the public to check our website before planning their visit. "It's devastating when we see the place we work so hard to look after impacted in this way. "The ongoing support of our visitors and members is even more vital at times like these, as we know recovery from the flooding will be costly to us. "From buying a cup of tea to paying to visit the house and gardens, the money we receive means we can continue to care for places like Lyme." A whole town was evacuated because of floods earlier today. The Environment Agency is warning there is a serious 'danger to life' in Whaley Bridge, Derbyshire, and to 'get out ASAP'. A wall around Toddbrook Reservoir, which has been severely damaged after heavy rain battered the region, is threatening to burst posing a major flooding risk. There are serious concerns lives could be claimed if the wall collapses causing 300m gallons of water to gush into the area. One local said it could "wipe half the village off the map." Image copyright NT Image caption The floodwaters caused damage to the park's paths, gardens and buildings A "massive clean-up" has begun at one of the National Trust's best-loved properties after flooding caused "major damage", the charity has said. A spokeswoman said staff had to "shore up defences" at Cheshire's Lyme Hall on Wednesday, which was used in the BBC's 1995 adaption of Pride and Prejudice. Most of the hall's antiques had been "saved", but paths, fences and plants had been "washed away", she said. She added that sadly, Mr Darcy had not emerged from the waters. Flood warnings remain in place across Cheshire and other parts of northern England. About 19mm of rain fell in the North West over eight hours on Wednesday, following heavy downpours on Sunday and Monday. Image copyright NT Image caption Some plants were uprooted and swept away by the floodwaters The hall was not badly affected, but the floods hit the wider estate, damaging the cafe, shop and toilets. The property's car parks and some of the grounds remain underwater, with some plants having been carried nearly a quarter of a mile by the floods. The spokeswoman said staff had worked into the evening to save the "many antiques and beautiful mansion interiors", with volunteers living nearby keeping watch overnight. She added that the property would be closed for the time being to allow the charity's staff and conservation specialists to assess the damage and clear the debris and mud. Image copyright NT Image caption The park has been closed to allow the extent of the damage to be assessed Image copyright NT Image caption The work to fix the damage caused by the flooding has already begun The estate's lead ranger Chris Dunkerley said it was "devastating [to] see the place we work so hard to look after impacted in this way". "We've taken the decision to remain closed to ensure we don't put any members of the public at risk, and so that we can start the repair work," he said. "At this point, we're unable to say when Lyme and the wider estate will reopen to the public, [so] check our website before planning their visit."