THE National Trust is appealing for witnesses following an arson attack which devastated an 18th century Gothic building in Petworth Park.
Firefighters were called to the blaze which started in an unused chapel in the grounds of Petworth Park around 2.15pm on Sunday, March 22.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said it was a ‘deliberate ignition’.
A spokesman for the National Trust said: “On Sunday, March 22, a historic building within Petworth Park was subject to an arson attack.
“A National Trust owned 18C Gothic colt house was broken into and a fire started.
“A member of the public walking in the park raised the alarm and a member of National Trust staff called the fire brigade, who arrived on the scene within 15 minutes.
“Tim Cook, building surveyor for the Trust, wishes to express his gratitude to the crews from Petworth, Midhurst and Billingshurst whose swift action undoubtedly saved this important historic building.
“No people or animals are known to have been injured in the fire.
“Sussex Police and the National Trust are appealing for any further information pertaining to this event.
“If you know anything please contact the police on 101 or 01273 470 101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org”
Firefighters from Midhurst, Petworth and Billingshurst were called to the blaze at 2.20pm in Petworth Park, off Tillington Road. Some 60 per cent of the ground floor of the building was damaged by fire, while 20 per cent of the first floor was damaged.
Two fire engines were at the scene from Midhurst and Billingshurst, as well as a Land Rover from Petworth.
Fire crews had made the scene safe by 3.15pm.
A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “On Sunday afternoon,(March 22) the fire service advised us that they had dealt with a fire at a two-storey unoccupied chapel building in Petworth Park and they regarded the cause as deliberate.
“Anyone with any information can always contact police via 101 quoting serial 789 of 22/3.”