All manor of trouble as owner rues selling urns
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
Richard Fearnside vanished from the deck of the Pride of Kent ferry