A £4 million country house near Shipston has been badly damaged by fire.

Firefighters from Shipston, Chipping Campden, Moreton, Wellesbourne and Leamington Spa rushed to Tidmington House, a grade two-listed house alongside the A3400 road south of Shipston, at about 2pm on Sunday.

A 40mx20m section of the first floor of the three-storey property was well alight and the blaze had spread to the ground floor.

Alistair Wheatcroft, watch manager at Campden, said that by the time his crew arrived the fire was under control.

“I believe it started on the first floor and spread to the ground floor,” said Mr Wheatcroft, whose crew remained at the scene for about two hours.

He said the blaze was to the side and rear of the house, which overlooks the river Stour, and the damage could not be seen from the road.

The house, which dates from about 1600 with a mid-18th century front, is mentioned in Nicholas Pevsner’s famous book on England’s architecture. The eight-bedroom house was sold in November last year. It was on the market through Moreton estate agents Strutt & Parker at a price of £3.95 million. The house’s new owners are currently having renovation work done on the property.

Simon Merton, of Strutt & Parker, said: “It’s tragic for the owners. I know they were doing it up.”

The former owner of Tidmington House, Marlyn Hales, who bought the house with her late husband Fred in 1988, said she was shocked to hear the news of the fire.

Mrs Hales, who now lives in Idlicote, near Shipston, said: “I hope there wasn’t too much damage. There is a lot that is still original. I drove past the other day and I thought how lovely it looked.”

In an article last year, Tidmington House was described by The Times as a house that “captivates” when glimpsed from the road.