THE world is mourning the loss of the historic Grade I listed Parnham House -says its former owner - renowned furniture designer John Makepeace.

Mr Makepeace was speaking as Dorset Police announced the arrest of a 68-year-old Beaminster man has been arrested on suspicion of arson. 

Police are still appealing for witnesses after the devastating blaze was deemed ‘suspicious’.

The man, who was arrested on Wednesday, was released under investigation on Thursday evening.

Mr Makepeace ran his School for Craftsmen in Wood from the 16th century stately home for 25 years before selling it to Michael and Emma Treichl in 2001 for around £4million.

He said he’d been contacted by his former students from all around the world all experiencing a profound sense of shock and loss He said: “Lots of my former students have contacted me. We’ve had responses from South Africa , Australia, California. It is astonishing - the news has gone around the world because so many people have loved Parnham and been aware of it - much more so than if it had just been a family home.There’s outpouring of a senses of loss of something that should be conserved “We had reunion the week before at the Design Museum in London and 120 alumni out of 200 were there.

“There was just such a joyful gathering and so many happy memories.

“What was joyful for me was that it was so much enjoyed by so many people - very different from its subsequent life which was a house for a family of four.

“To me the years we were there were golden years where things were possible because it caught the imagination of people and enabled us to do things.

“It was almost monastic where things were done well and people cared deeply.”

He added that the house was almost an inspiration in itself - a fact that will come out in a book Mr Makepeace is publishing later this year.

Mr Makepeace said the public had a similar reaction to the house.

He said: “They just adored it I think because it had the living purpose in those years unlike so many historic houses that are now being preserved but they don’t seem to have a life that takes them forward.

“But in that sense the Treichls were able to do what a house like that needs - which is to spend a lot of money and I suspect far more on it that it would ever be worth in a modern market which is really grim.

“We did explore other options for the house before putting it on the market then we just concluded it was too wonderful as a whole.

Mr Treichl is a London-based hedge fund advisor.

He set up Audley Capital Advisors in 2005 with Julian Treger and private equity investor Michael Treichl.

Prior to establishing Audley, the pair had advised on some 46 investments worth more than USD3.7bn.

His personal assistant said they were all very shocked at the news of the fire.

County Councillor Rebecca Knox, chairman of Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Authority said: “I know that everyone wants to understand what happened, up at the Littlewindsor pt-pt races and around the villages and town I heard how you all feel a great sadness, which it is.

“Please let the police know if you saw or heard or might of heard or seen anything odd in the area.

“At the same time this is a personal tragedy for the family, so please respect that and I am sure all our thoughts are with them at this really hard time, respect their privacy.

“The local footpaths around Parnham are closed, and this is understandable at this time.”