A serious fire has severely damaged the main barn at Park Farm, the headquarters of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage business, and the site of his River Cottage cookery school.

In an announcement on its website, River Cottage said no people or animals were hurt and that the River Cottage canteen and deli, located in the centre of Axminster, Devon, were unaffected.

The cause of the fire is not yet know. In a statement on the website, River Cottage said: "The River Cottage team are shocked and upset, and are dealing with the damage today.

"Hugh is away on a long-distance filming trip and will be informed as soon as he can be contacted.

"We would like to say a big 'thank you' to the Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, who were on the scene quickly and worked hard to contain the fire."

Cookery School courses will not be run in the short term, but River Cottage said it hoped they would return to normal soon.

By Neil Gerrard

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