Aristocratic heir disputing father’s will with his widow

wills and probate

English aristocrat the 9th Earl of Bathurst is embroiled in a dispute over his father’s will with his widowed stepmother.

Henry, the 8th Earl of Bathurst, divorced the mother of his three children in 1976. He later remarried and his 89 year-old second wife, Gloria, now carries the title Dowager Countess Bathurst. When Henry died in 2011 his son Allen inherited the title.

Gloria now wishes to enter the family stately home at Circencester Park in Gloucestershire in order to obtain “use and enjoyment” of the heirlooms, paintings and antique furniture within, and make an inventory of some. The treasures have an estimated value of around £13 million. But the 9th Earl and the trustees of the estate claim the “use and enjoyment” specified in her late husband’s will does not give her the right to enter the house.

The Dowager lives in a farmhouse on the 15,000 acre estate.

The resulting dispute reached the High Court earlier this month, with QC Fenner Moeran explaining that the Earl and his stepmother do not have a “cordial” relationship.

The current dispute is the latest in a series of disagreements between the Gloria and her stepson. They have previously rowed over closure of a local hospital carpark owned by the Dowager and later over the renewal of the lease for a prestigious local polo club frequented both by Prince Charles and Prince Harry. In the latter case the Dowager eventually relented, the Daily Telegraph reports.

A High Court ruling is expected in December.

Photo of Circencester, with Cirencester Park in the upper centre, by Mark Kent via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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2 comments

Andrew - October 19, 2017 at 2:18pm

You say that Henry died in 2011 and that he later remarried. Some mistake here surely?

Cameron Paterson - October 19, 2017 at 3:32pm

Quite right Andrew. Editorial glitchery now fixed

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