Bringing The House Down
Lady Henrietta Pemberton and husband Lord [Cranston] Pemberton narrowly escaped injury yesterday when a freak accident partially destroyed their delightful 18th Robert Thrupiece-Adam-designed Chedington Hall home.
Once one of the county’s finest visitor attractions [CLOSED since April 2020 pending "a thorough bio-secure dusting" and the installation of CONTRIK-69 secure decorative barrier ropes], Chedington has been in the family's possession since the 14th century. The present house, financed by speculative building enterprises and a large-scale ice-cream, deckchair and parasol business in the seaside town of Mudeford, was built for Cranston's great-great-great-great-great grandfather, the 3rd Lord Pemberton in 1781.
Friends say that Lady Henrietta had been practicing her violin for a forthcoming Save Our Stately Homes Charity Concert when part of the ceiling of their main drawing room collapsed, ironically rendering her own stately pile almost completely unsavable. Destroying a priceless painted ceiling, several chandeliers, an antique tantalus and "a rather nice Chippendale radiogram my Great Aunt Eugenie gave us as a wedding gift", the unexpected catastrophe was not, according to the local fire brigade, the result of an explosion or any other obvious detonation.
Although it is widely acknowledged that the building was not "in the best state of repair", no-one anticipated yesterday's events. Longtime live-in cleaner Mollie Karpit-Beta was as astonished as anyone. "I'd just finished polishing the handrails and was mixing a bucket of Pollyfilla for a couple of largish cracks I'd noticed in the pillar behind the 75" Panasonic when I heard Lady Pemberton strike up with Some Enchanted Evening and the next thing you know it sounds like the ceiling's coming through. So I rushed in to the Drawing Room and I couldn't believe it - there was the ceiling fallen through". "I called for Lord Pemberton but he was answering a call of nature in the West Wing and by the time he'd sorted out his trousers, Lady Pemberton had climbed from the wreckage and was sitting on top of it like a Christmas tree fairy". "We just stood there in amazement, 'til his Lordship handed me his iPhone 11 ProMax and said Mollie 'get a picture of this before the whole bloomin lot comes down'." "We had a laugh."
Though the exact cause of the structural failure may never been known - some have speculated that resonances resulting from overtones produced by Lady Pemberton's intense vibrato on the G string may be responsible - further investigations are underway. Chedington Local Authority Surveyor - Rula Thumb - believes the structural failure is most likely to be the result of the CONTRIK-69 pandemic. "It's an established fact that old buildings with underlying structural health problems are a 100 times more likely to succumb to the disease - particularly if they ignore social distancing measures. I believe that Chedington Hall fell into the most vulnerable category and, in retrospect, should certainly have been told weeks before the accident to self-isolate and avoid all contact with the natural elements ".
A spokesperson for Lord and Lady Pemberton said that stately home insurers Threadbonestately had indicated that, "A pandemic is an Act of God and is not covered by our normal policies", adding "so I imagine this will probably b****r up completely any claim.
Threadbonestately declined to comment on the status of the Pemberton's claim but said that they had advised them to "open up to visitors as soon as possible and to diversify their revenue streams. In short, we advised Lady Pemberton not to give up the violin just yet, but also suggested she might consider the purchase of a marquee for practice purposes".