Topic: Shirburn Castle, Oxfordshire, England
posted 07-25-2003 09:40 AM
From a newspaper article dated 25th July 2003
Earl loses fight to stay in castle
A lord and his lady are facing the prospect of being thrown out of the "sleeping beauty" castle that has been the family home for almost three centuries.
The 9th Earl of Macclesfield and his wife Sandra were told by a high court judge yesterday that they had failed in their fight to remain at the 40-room moated Shirburn Castle in the Vale of Oxford for the rest of the earl's life. In a judgment which marked the culmination of a series of bitter family disputes, Mr Justice Lewison ruled they can be required to vacate the 14th century castle on two years' notice.
He added: "It seems to me that, with goodwill and sincere cooperation on both sides, it would have been possible for a solution to be reached which would give Lord and Lady Macclesfield a home within the castle, even if not in the whole of it."
The earl's claim was contested by the firm that owns the estate near Watlington, the Beechwood Estates Company, which is largely owned by his relatives.
Meanwhile, the future of the castle, which houses valuable paintings, arms and armour and three libraries, remains uncertain.
The judge said it had been described by an expert witness as "a sleeping beauty of a castle ... It retains much of the detritus of past generations and is therefore a time capsule as it stands".
He added: "Little has been done to it, probably for a century. The electrical system has failed and most of the castle is plunged into darkness at nightfall."
Lawyers for the earl said the family had been riven by disputes since the mid-1980s.
The estimated cost of repairs is £2.6m and it is reckoned that 50,000 visitors a year would be required to make it pay as a tourist attraction.
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