A devastated family has been left homeless for Christmas after their £865,000 thatched cottage burnt to the ground – just three days after they moved in.
The Purdy family had barely set foot inside their 400-year-old “dream home” before it was razed to the ground on December 1.
They had lit their wood-burner for the first time to warm up the five-bed cottage but the thatched roof caught fire and burnt for hours.
Despite the best efforts of the emergency services, fire crews were unable to save the house at Hormead Cottage in Great Hormead, Herts.
MET police sergeant Paul Purdy, 38, and wife Sophie, 32, are now homeless days before Christmas along with their children Oliver, three, and one-year-old Madeleine.
Mrs Purdy said: “We are absolutely devastated and have lost everything. Fortunately we managed to rescue portraits of the children.
“The house had stood in the village for 400 years, but only a few days after we move in, it burns down, so we feel pretty unlucky.
“We have not heard back from the insurance company yet but we are hoping to rebuild once we are able to.
“Although it was the worst day of our lives, it was one of the best days for Oliver, as he loved seeing all the fire engines and even got to sit in one.
“He does keep talking about his new room though, and we don’t really have the heart to tell him that he doesn’t have a room anymore.
“We are now basically homeless, and have been forced to stay at a hotel until we sort something out.”
The Purdy’s first spotted the five-bedroom cottage six months ago and fell in love with their “dream home”.
The couple, who have been together for 14-years, moved from their four-bedroom semi-detached property in Stotfold, Beds., at the end of November.
Mrs Purdy, a project director for BT, said: “Nobody will ever know what happened.
“We caught the fire right at the start which is the frustrating thing and the fire service said they thought there would be a little bit of damage to the thatched roof.
“It is heartbreaking as we had bought our dream house after first seeing it about six-months ago and we were really looking forward to it.
“As for Christmas, we are probably going to spend it at my mum’s house. We’re just about to buy all the presents again as we lost all the ones we had bought in the fire.”
Since the devastating fire people in the local community have created a fundraising page to help support the family in their hour of need.
Reverend Kate Peacock, rector of St Nicholas’ Church, has placed a book in the church, allowing people to pledge their support and offers of help to the Purdys.
In addition, a GoFundMe page has been set up to support the family, and so far, close to £3,000 has been donated.
“The support we have received from the community has been absolutely overwhelming,” Mrs Purdy said.
“Everyone has been so amazing, from the fire service, to the police, to the farmers who assisted the crews in offering hundreds of thousands of gallons of water to help put out the fire.
“Although we have lost everything, in some ways, we have everything we need, and I can’t thank everyone enough for their help.”
A spokesman for Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue confirmed that the fire is being ruled as accidental.
To donate to the GoFundMe page, visit https://www.gofundme.com/family-in-great-hormead-house-fire