A HISTORIC New Forest home was badly damaged yesterday morning after it was hit by a lorry.

The walls and stairwell of Japonia Cottage, Breamore, buckled in the collision. The driver of the Brakes lorry, a man in his 50s, was taken to Salisbury District Hospital for treatment.

He suffered minor injuries in the crash.

Paul Hammond, who owns the Grade II-listed cottage in Salisbury Road, said rubble exploded into a hallway after the crash shortly after 6.40am.

“I heard a strange, unusual rumbling sound. The house was shaking,” Mr Hammond said.

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“I couldn’t quite figure out what the noise was. Next thing, there was a bang and rubble crashed into the hall.

“I stuck my head out and there was the lorry.”

Japonica Cottage is next to the A338. Some of the most seriously damaged parts of the house date from the 15th century.

“The house was added to in the 17th century and the 18th century too,” Mr Hammond said.

“It’s fully listed. It’s been very badly damaged and it’s now identified as a dangerous structure.”

The cause of the collision is not yet known, although police are believed to be probing the possibility that the driver fell unconscious.

“The driver was taken off to hospital for assessment,” Mr Hammond said. “My main concern was for my wife, who was upstairs at the time of the crash.

“She was trapped because of the damage to the staircase. In the end, the firefighters had to take her out of a bedroom window.”

Only two downstairs rooms in the cottage are now usable. A bus stop outside the cottage was also destroyed.

“The lorry has taken the walls down, and at the moment it’s the only thing holding the building up,” Mr Hammond said.

“We’ll have to move out while work is done - there’s no way we could carry on living here.

“We’d like to thank everyone who has been so kind to us. So many people have already offered to help and we’re very grateful indeed.”