March 12 2014 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
An unexploded wartime bomb discovered in the grounds of Blickling Hall has created extra drama and excitement for visitors and staff.
Bomb disposal experts from Colchester arrived yesterday morning to blow up the three-inch phosphorous device at the National Trust stately home, near Aylsham.
The discovery has been linked to a possible mammoth VE Day party in May 1945 and it will mean a small area of the grounds remains out of bounds to visitors until spring.
The bomb was uncovered on Monday afternoon during conservation work to shore up the edge of the lake which involved lowering the water level, according to Jo Bosch, marketing and engagement manager at the hall.
A team of volunteer litter pickers had been collecting debris revealed by the work when one of them, Dave Martin, had spotted the device.
“He took two very big steps back and called all the people he needed to call,” said Ms Bosch.
Spike Malin, Blickling’s premises manager who had once served in the RAF, had recognised it as a piece of second world war ordnance and rang the police.
A 100m cordon was set up around the site and Ms Bosch said a policeman had kept watch through the night.
The incident coincided with the start of the school half-term holiday and there had been about 600 visitors to Blickling Hall on Monday, according to Ms Bosch. About two dozen of them had been moved away from the danger area.
The bomb squad arrived early yesterday morning and carried out a controlled explosion, first moving the device to a site about 150 yards from the lake.
Ms Bosch said the speculation was that the white phosphorous device could have been among the homemade fireworks known to have been made by Canadian airmen billeted at Blickling Hall in the war.
“We know they threw a big, fun party on VE Day and this could have been something from it which didn’t go off.
“Because phosphorous burns when it is exposed to air, we have had to fence an area off – about 50 yards square – which people won’t be able to use for three months,” Ms Bosch added. It would not affect visitors’ enjoyment of the lakeside walk.
When the lake level had been lowered on a previous occasion, a headless stone garden statue of the goddess Diana had been uncovered.
It was thought to have been thrown into the water during a party in the 1930s and was currently lying in the Orangery awaiting conservation after which it would be put back on display.