A Clandon Park cotton tale

Chinese porcelain rabbit found during salvage at Clandon Park

Our salvage work in the house at Clandon is continuing rapidly and this small porcelain rabbit is one of the latest items to be discovered intact. Discovered just before Easter 2016, rescuing our bunny could hardly have been better timed.

Our rabbit was rescued from the house by archaeologists at work in the State Bedroom. On display in a cabinet in the Blue China Room prior to the fire, he’s made his way not just through fire but down one storey through a collapsing floor and ceiling. 
One of a pair, our rabbit is Chinese and was made from porcelain between about 1720 and 1799. Exported to Europe, he was snapped up in the early twentieth century by the sharp eyes of the remarkable collector Hannah Gubbay. He came to Clandon Park in 1969 as part of the large collection of ceramics, needlework and furniture given to the National Trust by this generous connoisseur where he's been appreciated by visitors ever since. 
Covered in ash immediately after being found
Chinese porcelain rabbit found during salvage at Clandon Park

The figure is modelled to show the rabbit seated with his head raised and long ears thrown back. Underneath the dirt and ash he’s a delightful dappled brown with a shiny glazed finish. As you can see in the video below, this piece is hollow and extremely fragile. 
Despite his traumatic journey our cotton-tailed friend has fared incredibly well. He was buried in debris and ash and therefore afforded some protection from falling timbers. He's completely intact, even his long delicate ears remain in place and unchipped. Following the wet cleaning process applied to all our ceramic finds our rabbit has regained his glossy appearance and his true colour. Aside from a few minor scrapes you’d never know he’d been on such an adventure. 
Looking much more cheerful after being carefully cleaned
Chinese porcelain rabbit found during salvage at Clandon Park

We're still looking in the debris for his little grey and white rabbit friend. In traditional Chinese culture, rabbits are associated with longevity, so we hope that this means that his pair can be found and they can soon be reunited. 

Rescuing our rabbit

This marvellous ceramic rabbit survived the fire and was discovered, whole, by our archaeologists. Part of the Gubbay collection, it sat on display on the first floor but was found on the floor below, amongst the ash and debris. Now cleaned by conservators it'll one day return to a restored Clandon Park.