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Saturday, April 15, 2017

heritage home damaged by fire at Dorset ~ what is indemnity ??

‘And near that day one of his soldiers with his sword casually killed Lady Strode in that same place.’ - So wrote A. R. Bayley in his book, The Great Civil War in Dorset 1642-1660, published in 1910. The soldier was one of those under the command of Colonel Fairfax, the Parliamentary commander in the West, and ‘that same place’ was Parnham House near Beaminster. It was one of the examples of gratuitous violence that occurred during the 1640s when England was rent by the Civil War. Dorset, (Dorsetshire) is a county in South West England on the English Channel coast. Covering an area of 2,653 square kilometres (1,024 sq mi), Dorset borders Devon, Somerset,  Wiltshire, Hampshire (thankfully couple of counties that I have read the names because of their Cricket connection !!)

Fire Insurance is a contract whereby the Insurers upon consideration,  agree to indemnify the insured against loss or damage to subject matter insured caused by perils during the currency of policy. In India, we have the Standard Fire & Special Perils Policy.  Though the name is Fire Policy, it covers a host of perils including – flood, cyclone, storm, riot, strike, impact damage and more.  There has to be a specified subject matter which is insured against, at a given value, i.e., the sum insured.  It can be Building, Plant & machinery and Stocks – and when damaged by insured perils, the Insurer’s indemnify – place the insured back in the position as they were prior to the loss.  This indemnification is purely on monetary terms and no Insurer can in reality bring back certain subject-matter – and the subject matter is a heritage building damaged by fire. 

MailOnline reports that Twenty fire engines were called to Parnham House, in Dorset, this morning to tackle the blaze. Pictures appear to show a large part of the home engulfed by flames which gutted the interior.  The mansion is believed to be privately owned with all occupants accounted for.  Dorset Police are investigating how the fire was started  and have not ruled out suspiscious circumstances. 

The building damaged in fire is a  16th century stately home and Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service tweeted images of the blaze which appeared to destroy a large part of the mansion.  The house is believed to be privately owned by Michael and Emma Treichl who renovated the site eight years ago. A spokeswoman for Dorset Police told Somerset Live officers were alerted at 4.10am.  'Officers arrived at 4.25am to find an extensive fire at the premises - all occupants were accounted for,' she said and an investigation in to the cause of fire was on.

It was the site of the brutal 1645 murder during the English Civil War. Parnham was brought into the ownership of the Strode family in the mid-1500s who lived in the property for 200 years.  It was the site of murder  of Lady Ann Strode by a soldier under the command of Colonel Thomas Fairfax - commander-in-chief of the Parliamentarian forces during the English Civil War. During the 1920s the house was a country club until it was used to accommodate American soldiers during the Second World War. It was bought by the Treichls in 2001. Before the fire, the house and gardens were open to the public during spring and summer.

Had the property been insured, its owners might get the value required for rebuilding the same at its present site, but the heritage value, however, would have been lost forever.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

15th Apr 2017.

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