Earl and his pregnant wife evicted from £85million family seat
THE heir to a stately home claims he and his pregnant wife have been evicted from the £85million family seat after an extraordinary spat in which his aunt branded him ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’.
William, Earl of Yarmouth, was also called ‘pompous’ by Lady Carolyn Seymour, who said his wedding invitations were ‘embarrassingly awful’ because he did not use the correct font.
The falling out reached a head last month when she wrote to him again, this time telling him he and his wife had to move out of their cottage in the grounds of the Ragley Estate in Warwickshire, to make way for a member of staff.
The earl, 26, whose ancestors include Henry VIII’s third wife Jane Seymour, believes the anger stems from his decision to marry City high-flyer Kelsey Wells, 34, a former non-executive director at Goldman Sachs. The couple say they believe his birthright is now at risk because of his family’s dislike of the ‘outsider’ countess.
The couple married at the estate last year. Ragley Hall is a magnificent Palladian mansion set in 5,000 acres which has been the ancestral seat of the Hertford family for more than 300 years.
It is run by the earl’s father, the 9th Marquess of Hertford, Lord Henry Seymour, who moved into the house with his Brazilian-born wife Beatriz in 1990. They have four children: Gabriella, 28, William, Edward, 25, and Antonia, 22.
All his life, William has been told he would take over the running of Ragley. Just last year the marquess, 61, said he planned to hand over the reins when his son turned 30.
But William said that last year he was astonished to receive an email from his mother, 59, saying: ‘As you know, darling, there are no funds available for supporting two generations at the same time and you should prepare for that.
‘There are no obligations as to when or what is handed over. Ragley was passed to your father when he was 33 because your grandfather, then 61, saw fit. Nowadays retirement happens later and people live longer. Our concern is you don’t seem to be taking it all in; as if you were somehow expecting Ragley to fit within your needs.’ William said: ‘We were shocked and confused. I didn’t understand.’
His wife told The Mail on Sunday: ‘I couldn’t imagine having everything you have been brought up knowing to be true be taken away from under you and be told that none of that is yours any more.’
The earl said he believed his parents disapproved of his relationship with Kelsey from the beginning. He said that in 2016, when he announced he would like to bring her home for the weekend, he found his car had been lent to a member of staff, meaning he could not pick her up from the station.
Later, when he said he wanted her to stay at Ragley, he said he arrived home to be told his parents had given his bed away to the new butler, meaning he had to sleep on a blow-up mattress.
In April 2017 they decided to marry. But after sending out the invitations, they received the astonishing RSVP from his aunt.
The 58-year-old wrote of the invitation’s design: ‘[It’s] so embarrassingly awful, it’s almost laughable, if it weren’t so tragic. Since when do you start with the groom’s coronet on top of the page? Moreover, you haven’t even used the Ragley blue nor the correct font.’
She went on to berate William for suggesting how guests might dress. ‘Good God, what are you? Little Lord Fauntleroy? [the boy who wore a black velvet suit and large lace collar in the 1886 novel of the same name].
‘You appear to be extraordinarily keen on using your title, yet, oh so sadly, don’t know how to behave as one,’ before signing off: ‘You pompous ass/t**/p***k – take your pick. Your ever-so loving aunt.’
After their £80,000 wedding the couple moved into a cottage on the estate. But last month – soon after the countess announced her pregnancy – the eviction letter arrived, again from Lady Carolyn. She said the cottage was needed for a carer for William’s grandmother.
‘There are plenty of rooms to let locally and you can become someone’s lodger,’ his aunt added.
William texted his brother, telling him he had been made homeless. ‘Carolyn was the one who was dispatched
‘We were shocked and confused’
to do the job [again],’ he wrote. ‘Whatever happened to our family’s motto “by faith and love”?’ His wife said her parents-in-law seemed to have ‘a pathological need’ to exert control over their son. The couple say that a month on, the cottage is still empty.
Lord and Lady Hertford could not be reached for comment yesterday. Lady Hertford told the Mail on Sunday: ‘We’re trying to build bridges.’ Lady Carolyn, when asked why William and his wife had been evicted, laughed and said: ‘Yes, of course she has.’