Belfast Telegraph

Fire destroys estate summer house

A thatched summer house at the Florence Court estate in Co Fermanagh has been destroyed in a suspected arson attack.

The fire at the National Trust property was reported on Thursday night.

Four teenage boys, one aged 14 and three aged 15, were arrested.

Jim Chestnutt, National Trust manager at Florence Court, said: " Sadly, last evening our summer house at Florence Court was totally destroyed by fire. Most importantly no one was injured in the incident."

The building had a wooden frame and thatched roof.

The fire brigade and police attended the scene, and the cause is being investigated.

Mr Chestnutt added: "This is a very sad event for National Trust staff and volunteers at the property and for the thousands of visitors who visit Florence Court annually."

The thatched building surrounded by heather-clad walls sat on a high area overlooking the Pleasure Gardens and was a favourite destination for the beautiful views across the gardens to distant mountains.

The manager said: "This news is devastating for the staff and volunteers who love and care for Florence Court, one of our most beautiful places in Northern Ireland.

"However, as a conservation charity we are committed to looking after these special places for ever and the team at Florence Court is confident that the summer house can be fully restored.

"Florence Court remains open to the public this weekend, and our team will continue to provide a warm welcome to our visitors."

A PSNI spokesman said the suspects had been detained.

"Four teenage boys, one aged 14 and three aged 15, were arrested last night after a structure at the Florence Court National Trust estate in Fermanagh was targeted in an arson attack," he said.

Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott said the arson attack showed a disgusting disregard for the local community and all those who frequent Florence Court estate.

"The summer house was a well-known feature of Florence Court and has been a part of the estate now for over 20 years.

"I hope that this attack does not discourage both local people and tourists from visiting Florence Court. The estate is an important part of County Fermanagh and indeed Northern Ireland's history and attracts tourists from far and wide.

"This is a very unique feature and what is in anyone's mind that they would want to burn and destroy such a feature, I do not know.

"In time I would like to see this prominent feature of Florence Court replaced and the perpetrators of this arson attack brought to justice."

Four teenagers arrested in connection with the arson attack have been released on bail pending further enquiries, police said.

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