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Owner reveals plans to rebuild Grade II cottage that was devastated by fire
A WOMAN who watched helplessly as her grade II listed cottage was gutted in a devastating thatch fire plans to rebuild the home.
Pat Gilgrass’ house of 27 years, Tudor Cottage in Sutton, near Eynsham, was destroyed in the huge blaze last September.
About 70 firefighters battled the fire, which started at 1.20am and raged for six hours before the fire service could bring it under control.
Ms Gilgrass was in the 400-year-old home at the time and, although she escaped unharmed, she watched as it went up in flames.
She has now submitted a planning application to rebuild the home, although she does not plan on reinstating the thatched roof.
She said: “I was asleep and I heard what I thought were fireworks.I looked out of the window and I saw a reflection of flames in the car window.
“I rushed out of the house to find the neighbouring barn exploding in an inferno. I was in complete panic.”
Ms Gilgrass could do nothing as she watched the fire spread to her roof and then go up in a “sheet of flame”.
She said: “I stayed inside at a neighbour’s house after that. “I was in a state of shock and I did not want to watch it.”
Although she lost the majority of her furniture and clothes, the fire service was able to rescue photo albums and other personal items.
Ms Gilgrass said: “I went into super-efficient mode in the morning and started ringing people to sort things out.
“There was not any point in having a meltdown, there was so much that needed to be done.”
Since the fire, Ms Gilgrass, who works as an administrator at The Dragon School Pre-Prep, Lynams, has been renting a flat in Oxford.
Now she has submitted an application to rebuild the home, which will retain the cottage’s timber frame and use hemp to create wattle and daub-style walls.
Ms Gilgrass said: “I could not just abandon the house.
“Having been there for so long I felt a great fondness for it and its preservation, and I felt I needed to rebuild it.”
But she said she would not rebuild the destroyed thatched roof, saying she was not comfortable living in another thatched building.
The proposal is for a tile-hung roof.
Ms Gilgrass said if West Oxfordshire District Council grants planning permission, she hopes to move into the home in February or March next year.
She added: “It is going to be wonderful.
“The last year has been a very challenging and exhaustive time, but at least the fire allowed me to have a pretty drastic de-clutter.”