All manor of trou­ble as owner rues sell­ing urns

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Mike Lock­ley Staff Re­porter

AMANOR owner who re­moved and sold two 18th cen­tury urns from the grounds of his listed home faces hav­ing to scour the globe to get them back.

The lead urns graced Mar­cus Dill’s glo­ri­ous seven-bed­room Cotswolds home, Idli­cote House, in Ship­ston-onS­tour, War­wick­shire, be­fore he sold them at auc­tion in 2009.

The work of cel­e­brated Flem­ish sculp­tor, John van Nost, he didn’t re­alise un­til six years later that they and their lime­stone pedestals were also listed.

But Strat­ford-on-Avon Dis­trict Coun­cil took a dim view and de­manded that he get them back – and re­store them to the grounds of his home. The coun­cil hit him with a plan­ning en­force­ment no­tice last year and that has now been up­held by a High Court judge.

Mr Dill pointed out that the urns had been bought by an “anony­mous buyer” for £55,000 and had prob­a­bly been taken out of the UK.

Even if their owner could be tracked down, they could not be com­pelled to re­turn them to Idli­cote House.

But plan­ners said that to grant ret­ro­spec­tive con­sent for their re­moval would set “an ex­tremely dan­ger­ous prece­dent”.

Mr Dill’s QC, Richard Har­wood, ar­gued the urns and pedestals were not build­ings and had been wrongly listed in 1986. But his chal­lenge was re­jected by Mr Jus­tice Singh, who up­held the coun­cil’s de­ci­sion. The urns were made in about 1700 for the Duke of Kent’s es­tate at Wrest Park, in Bed­ford­shire. They later passed into Mr Dill’s fam­ily – his great-great grand­fa­ther once owned Wrest Park – and his an­ces­tors took them with them when­ever they moved from one home to an­other.

His father brought them to Idli­cote House in the early 1970s and they were placed in a prom­i­nent po­si­tion on ei­ther side of a gar­den path. It was not un­til 2014 that the coun­cil be­came aware that the urns and pedestals had been re­moved.

Dis­miss­ing Mr Dill’s chal­lenge to the in­spec­tor’s rul­ing, Mr Jus­tice Singh re­jected ar­gu­ments that the urns and pedestals were listed “by mis­take”. The in­spec­tor had jus­ti­fi­ably con­cluded that they were “build­ings”, or at least “erec­tions or struc­tures”, that could be listed in their own right.

> Listed Idli­cote House, in Ship­ston-on-Stour, War­wick­shire, where owner Mar­cus Dill lives. Right, one of the urns

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Richard Fearn­side van­ished from the deck of the Pride of Kent ferry

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