VALUABLE antiques were destroyed in a blaze at an historic house in west Oxfordshire.

Fire officers are still investigating the cause of the blaze, in the drawing room of Swinbrook House, built by the aristocrat parents of early 20th century socialites the Mitford sisters. The alarm was raised at the three-storey property in Swinbrook, near Burford, at about 8pm on Saturday.

Bea McDonald, who was helping out at a dinner party at the house, pictured, tried to put out the fire after smoke alarms went off.

Ms McDonald, from Shipton-under-Wychwood, said: “I can’t believe how quickly it went up. The smoke was so thick I couldn’t see the doorway. I closed all the doors and got the dogs out.”

She was treated for smoke inhalation.

Housekeeper Olga Bolton broke her ankle as she left the house.

Burford fire officer Nick Bourke said firefighters had managed to save paintings and ornaments, but other “high-value items” had been destroyed.