Yesterday Gunton Hall, the seat of Lord Suffield, was to a large extent destroyed by a disastrous fire. The hall was a handsome white brick mansion standing on a slight eminence about midway between Aylsham and North Walsham. It had been enlarged by successive generations of the Harbord family, and the garden and park attached to it are laid out with much taste. The grounds comprise an artificial lake, the waters of which were used, but with no great effect, in subduing the conflagration of yesterday. The fire appears to have originated in a flue about 6am yesterday, and it broke out in one of the bed rooms of the west front. Messages soliciting assistance were forwarded to North Walsham, Aylsham and Cromer. The fire brigades of those towns were soon in attendance. Before their engines began to play upon the burning pile, much valuable time had been unavoidably lost, and the flames had acquired such a hold upon the mansion that the utmost that could be done was to save a portion of the building. The hall was rich in pictures, furniture, and other articles of value. Energetic efforts were made to save these treasures. Most of the pictures were removed in safety and a considerable portion of the furniture was also rescued from the flames, but some was destroyed. As the morning advanced the flames still raged on, and room after room fell a prey to them. The new front of the hall was destroyed, and, in fact, the greater part of the mansion became a mere wreck. Up to noon the fire was still burnt fiercely, but at great length the efforts of the firemen began to tell on the flames, and by nightfall the fire had been subdued, although it was considered necessary to watch the smoking embers all night. Lord and Lady Suffield were not staying at the hall, and as the fire did not commence until daybreak all the inmates escaped without injury. The damage done by the fire is roughly estimated at £30,000. The hall was insured in the North British and Mercantile Office.
Ref: The Times, 19 December 1882, Page 8, Column f