The Poltimore House Trust says it is ‘absolutely devastated’ by the fire that raged through the historic building yesterday (Tuesday, April 9).

Firefighters from Sidmouth, Honiton and Ottery St Mary were involved in fighting the blaze, which broke out in the early hours of Tuesday and is being treated as suspected arson.

The building near Broadclyst was largely derelict, but parts of it had been restored and brought back into use as a community hub. A music and arts festival was due to take place there next month to raise money towards further restoration work.

In a statement released on Tuesday evening, the Poltimore House Trust said it will be launching a fundraising campaign to save what is left of the building.

Sidmouth Herald: Fire crews and police at the scene on Tuesday

Dr Peter Totterdill, Chair of Poltimore House Trust, said: “This amazing place has been loved by so many people over the years, and my heart goes out to all the many volunteers who have worked so hard to protect and restore Poltimore House.

“I have been at the house all morning and am shocked at the scale of the devastation.

“I know that many people are distraught by what has happened and we are all feeling a deep sense of loss. However I have been in touch with many of our Board members and we’re determined to save what we can of this important part of Devon’s heritage, and to hold on to our vision of Poltimore House and Grounds as a place for everyone.

“More than ever, we need everyone’s help to recover from this disaster and to move forward with optimism.”

Poltimore House Trust said: “We are committed to making the house and grounds safe following this terrible fire and to assess options for future restoration. We will be launching a fundraising appeal in the coming days and will share this once live.

“The police are appealing for anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious around the time of the fire to contact them online or by telephoning 101, quoting crime reference 50240083403.

“On behalf of The Poltimore House Trust trustees and all our dedicated volunteers, we would like to thank the emergency services and our local community for all your support.”

The organisers of the Poltimore Music and Arts Festival, due to take place at the end of May, have been contacted for comment, but are not ready to make a statement at this stage.

East Devon District Council released a statement today (Wednesday, April 10) saying its councillors and staff are 'deeply saddened to hear about the devastating fire at Poltimore House'.

The council said: "As steadfast supporters of this important East Devon site and in recognition of the dedication and tireless efforts of all the volunteers involved, we extend our heartfelt sympathies to the devoted team at Poltimore House.

"EDDC have a long and committed relationship with the trustees and volunteers at Poltimore House. Recently, Poltimore House Trust received Innovation and Resilience Funding to establish a café and visitor attraction to generate vital funds for the restoration of the House. EDDC will continue to support the team in every way we can to work towards the continued restoration of this significant and historical landmark."