The decorations may now be down and the trees disposed of, but for tenants at Pippa Middleton and James Matthews’s £15 million country estate this has been the last Christmas any of them will spend in their current homes.
I can disclose that they were served with eviction notices before festivities got under way — and have greeted them with dismay and anger. Some tenants have rented their homes from the Berkshire estate for decades.
‘We’ve been told we’ve got to get out, so we’ve got to get out, haven’t we?’ one disgruntled tenant tells me.
He adds that this cannot be equated with the ending of a short-term rental agreement. ‘We’ve been on this estate for 40 years. My mum and dad also live down the road. They’ve been told they can stay — for the moment — but I have to move. We rented all these outbuildings, too, so I’m clearing them out now. Forty years of stuff.’
Pippa Middleton and James Matthews pictured attending the Miles Frost Fund party at Bunga Bunga in Covent Garden in 2017. The couple have served notice on tenants living in their £15million Berkshire estate
Pippa Middleton and James Matthews pictured on their wedding day leaving St Mark’s Church in Englefield in 2017. Among the tenants served notice is a children’s home which offers a healing environment for those who have experienced trauma
Distressing though the upheaval is for those who are leaving their homes, they are aware that there is one group of residents for whom the eviction could prove especially upsetting. These are the occupants of a registered children’s home which offers a healing environment for those who have experienced trauma.
Carers confirm that they have been given notice, but refrain from further comment. One of their neighbours assures me that the children’s home has had a tenancy for ‘many years’.
A friend of Pippa and James confirms that the tenants have been served with eviction notices, but claims that the children’s home received its order to leave last summer, before the couple took ownership of the estate. ‘They want the estate to be a family property,’ the pal explains.
Another local tells me that, even before eviction notices were issued, it was clear that change was under way at the estate, which the Princess of Wales’s sister, 39, and her investment banker husband, 47, bought last year.
Last week, I revealed they were installing a mammoth pool in what had been a wonderful kitchen garden, as well as adding a tennis court.
Pippa Middleton pictured with her then-fiance James Matthews at the Disability Snowsport UK ParaSnowBall in London in 2017. Sources say the couple want to turn the estate into a family property
‘You used to be able to walk into the grounds, but not since they bought it,’ the local alleges. ‘They’ve put up more signs and CCTV. It’s all kept hush-hush. We don’t see them around.’
Nevertheless, the couple’s influence is keenly felt, with residents alleging that all fishing on the estate is now private whereas, in the era of the previous owners, some streams had been publicly accessible. A friend insists there is still public access from Monday to Thursday.
Another local adds that anyone straying a yard or two off a public footpath to pick blackberries risks reprimand from a gamekeeper. ‘It seems unfair when you’re not causing any damage,’ he tells me. ‘It’s a bit over the top. Wasn’t like that before.’
But perhaps Pippa and James will derive some satisfaction from the rueful observation of one departing tenant. ‘They’ve done everything by the law,’ he says. ‘But money talks, doesn’t it?’
Lord Bath pays £18.5m to divorcee with Nazi relative for Churchill’s last home
The 19th-century town house where Sir Winston Churchill drew his last breath has been bought by a couple already blessed with one of Britain’s most celebrated homes.
I can disclose that the Marquess of Bath and his wife, Strictly star Emma Weymouth, have purchased the Grade II-listed property in London’s Kensington for £18.5 million. The Marquess’s ancestral seat is Longleat House in Wiltshire.
They bought Churchill’s home from a multi-millionaire divorcee whose former husband’s Nazi-supporting grandfather was convicted at the Nuremberg trials.
The Marquess of Bath, Ceawlin Thynn, and his wife Emma Weymouth, pictured at the 10th Annual Filmmakers Dinner in France 2019
Pictured: The home of Donatella Flick near Hyde Park after she bought it for £2.5million in 1996
Friedrich Flick, a leading backer of the Nazis, was one of the Circle of Friends, a group of industrialists set up to create links between businesses and the Third Reich. He was sentenced to seven years in jail.
Donatella Flick, who was married to Friedrich’s grandson Muck, bought the house near Hyde Park for £2.5 million in 1996. She has defended Friedrich, claiming his imprisonment for crimes against humanity was a miscarriage of justice.
She turned the bedroom where Churchill died into a sitting room dominated by a black-and-white colour scheme. ‘Very simple, very strict, a little bit severe,’ she explained. ‘That’s the way I am.’
In the spot where Churchill’s bed stood, she placed a coffee table laden with glossy books and tall white candles. Monogrammed cushions adorned black sofas, while on the staircase there was a bust of Wilhelm Furtwangler, the German conductor who fought off accusations that he was a Nazi sympathiser.
Land Registry documents confirm that the house was bought by Longleat Estate Holdings Ltd.
Muck Flick, the grandson of Friedrich Flick, pictured with his wife Donatella Flick in 1994
Friedrich Flick pictured at the Nuremburg trials in December 1947, where he was sentenced to seven years in prison
New year, new love for Camilla’s niece
The Queen Consort’s niece, Ayesha Shand, is enjoying a romantic start to 2023.
I hear the daughter of Camilla’s late brother, Mark Shand, is now going out with Luigi Ambrosi, who works for his Italian family’s dairy business in America. ‘They make a great match,’ a friend tells me. Ayesha, 28, shared this photo of the couple seeing in the new year while on holiday in Uruguay.
Camilla’s niece, who works alongside Princess Eugenie at the Hauser & Wirth art gallery in Mayfair, credits her aunt with helping her cope with the loss of her father, who died in 2014 aged 62. ‘She has been incredible in being there for me and maintaining my father’s legacy,’ Ayesha told me in 2021.
Ayesha Shand shared this photo of her and Luigi Ambrosi seeing in the new year while on holiday in Uruguay
Stripped of his royal patronages and cherished military affiliations, Prince Andrew nevertheless refuses to accept that his Dragons’ Den-style scheme is finished.
Pitch@Palace Global has published its accounts which show that the project, which he created to broker deals between tech start-ups and investors at events at Buckingham Palace, is still a going concern.
It has retained more than £500,000 in cash and employs a staff member. King Charles’s brother is listed as ‘having significant’ control. A source tells me: ‘The business is on life support and there’s no sign of the Duke of York switching it off.’
Harry who? Cressida’s all chill with son
While Prince Harry is busy spewing the grubbiest details of his private life, his ex-girlfriend Cressida Bonas is keen to project a more wholesome image.
The actress, 33, has shared the first photograph of her baby son, lying on top of her on a sofa next to her dachshund, Budgie Bear. ‘Welcoming 2023 with these two treasures,’ she says.
Cressida, who went out with the Duke of Sussex for two years until 2014, gave birth to her first child in November. She and her husband, Harry Wentworth-Stanley, 33, a partner in a property investment firm, have not yet made public their son’s name.
Cressida Bonas shared the first photograph of her baby son, lying on top of her on a sofa next to her dachshund, Budgie Bear
Kate signs pal’s ‘nepo baby’ to model agency
Kate Moss is clearly unconcerned about the row over ‘nepo babies’ — people who have benefited from nepotism thanks to their parents’ careers.
I hear she’s signed up another daughter of a famous pal to her modelling agency. The new recruit is Bliss Chapman, 17-year-old daughter of model-turned-nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson and the artist Jake Chapman.
Bliss, a bridesmaid at Moss’s 2011 wedding to musician Jamie Hince, joins her half-sister, Elfie Reigate, 22, who was the debut signing of the Kate Moss Agency.
Elfie Reigate and her half-sister Bliss Chapman, pictured, have both been signed up to Kate Moss’s modelling agency
Prince Harry can rule out an invitation to Belvoir Castle, seat of the Duke of Rutland, next time he dares to return to Britain. The Duke’s daughter, Lady Violet Manners, says: ‘Harry, shame on you. Name-calling your own blood an ‘arch-nemesis’ doesn’t tell your story. It shows you’re a child-like individual who didn’t get your own way and are very publicly throwing toys from your pram.
‘I hope no child reads the headlines and thinks this is what [siblings] do to each other in the hope of “healing”.’
The smart set’s talking about… Racy YouTuber’s aristo secret
Skip university, ditch the nine-to-five job — and become messianic about your hobby. That’s the formula for the tyre-screeching success of supercar YouTuber and podcaster Sam Fane, who flicked the ignition on Seen Through Glass, his YouTube channel, after heeding his father’s advice to ‘pursue a passion’.
Fane, 33, modestly tells me: ‘It wasn’t supposed to be a career.’
Yet he ended up with more than 500,000 subscribers, filmed videos with F1 champion Sebastian Vettel, roared around the world in a Porsche 911 — with a glamorous Bulgarian, Viktoria Kirkova, as passenger — and kicked a new lease of life into his 20-year-old Ferrari by fuelling it with a mix of synthetics and bio-waste.
Sam Fane, pictured, has become a successful supercar YouTuber and podcaster after heeding his father’s advice to ‘pursue a passion’
He and Viktoria, a PR manager for industrial giant INEOS, are now married and have just celebrated the birth of a daughter, Mia.
Anything else on the agenda? The House of Lords, perhaps: Sam is in line to succeed his uncle, the Earl of Westmorland.