Not long after Lord St. Leonards had first taken over Boyle Farm, whilst he was still Sir Edward Sugden, the house was involved in an incident which could have had catastrophic results.
In the early hours of Monday 15 January 1838, between four and five o'clock, a watchman named Miles observed smoke issuing from the mansion. He raised the alarm, broke into the grounds, and found flames coming from the north side of the house.
The household was immediately alerted, and a man was sent post-haste on horseback to Kingston, being the nearest place where a fire-brigade was then maintained. Meanwhile the whole village seems to have, been awakened by the hullaballoo and turned out to volunteer their services. Some were detailed to move the valuable furniture and paintings from the threatened rooms, and chains were organised to bring buckets of water from the river. Even the small pump which was normally kept in the grounds for watering the plants was pressed into use to help allay the progress of the flames.
The fire had apparently originated in the conservatory from the overheating of the pipes used to maintain the warmth for the plants, which had ignited some combustible material. About half an hour later the conservatory was entirely engulfed and the flames were beginning to penetrate into the adjoining drawing room. When the engine from Kingston arrived, closely followed by that from Ewell, the fire was eventually brought under control. The conservatory had been completely devoured, but the drawing-room was nearly all saved. The major damage being caused by heat and smoke, which destroyed many of the priceless pictures, furniture, and fittings in the room (256).
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