‘Fam­ily meant noth­ing to power-mad count­ess’

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - News - ALEX ROSS [email protected]­plc..com

IT could be a story line from Down­ton Abbey –a lonely, grumpy count­ess stuck in a long and bit­ter feud with her es­tranged step­son over the £45 mil­lion es­tate left by her hus­band.

Glo­ria Wes­ley, the Dowa­ger Count­ess Bathurst, never saw eye to eye with the 9th Earl Allen Bathurst af­ter mar­ry­ing his fa­ther, the 8th Earl Henry ‘Barmy’ Bathurst in 1978.

And the volatile re­la­tion­ship only soured when the 8th Earl died.

The bub­bling dis­pute reached a cli­max when the Dowa­ger Count­ess tried to as­sert what she be­lieved was her right to en­ter the 9th Earl Bathurst’s home, Cirences­ter Park, money and power, and that was all she cared for. Fam­ily and work in the com­mu­nity meant noth­ing to her.

“When her hus­band died she tried to snatch ev­ery sin­gle fam­ily pos­ses­sion. It is all very sad. In her role she could have done so much good, but in­stead she caused much de­struc­tion and sad­ness.”

One can some­times be judged by the tributes made fol­low­ing their death.

The Mayor of Cirences­ter, Nigel Rob­bins, said he did not know much of her work, but placed on the record his sym­pa­thy for the fam­ily.

And when ap­proached by the Western Daily Press, Lady Bathurst said: “The fam­ily don’t think it ap­pro­pri­ate to make com­ment.”

Her fu­neral takes place St Kenelm’s Church in Sap­per­ton on Fri­day at noon.

But do not ex­pect a packed-out church. The 9th Earl and Lady Bathurst will be there, but more “out of re­spect”, said the source.

Prob­lems re­ally started when the 8th Earl died.

As set out in the dead earl’s will, the Dowa­ger Count­ess moved out of the park home and into the Manor Farm and its 3,000-acre es­tate. She was given ‘ the sport­ing rights for game and deer’, along with the ‘use and en­joy­ment’ of the con­tents of Cirences­ter Park.

How­ever, when the Count­ess Dowa­ger made an ex­ten­sive in­ven­tory of all the goods in the house – which in­clude a £6 mil­lion life-sized paint­ing of the Duke of Welling­ton – the ar­gu­ments started to re­ally spill over.

The earl said he did not want his step­mother com­ing in to in­spect items in the house. The case went to the High Court, where Judge Barker said she had no right to in­spect the home’s trea­sures.

Talk­ing af­ter the case, the 9th Earl said: “She can’t just barge in and turn the place up­side down again.”

The High Court bat­tle was not the only spat in the fam­ily.

In 2013, the dowa­ger count­ess closed a free car park for doc­tors and nurses close to Cirences­ter Hos­pi­tal. She ig­nored the pleas from her hus­band, who was pres­i­dent of the Cirences­ter Hos­pi­tal League of Friends.

Two years ear­lier an­other prob­lem had arisen. The dowa­ger said she did not want to re­new the lease of Cirences­ter Park Polo Club, which sits on her es­tate. Even­tu­ally, she re­lented. There were also tales of the dowa­ger cru­elly evict­ing ten­ants from her es­tate.

Dowa­ger Count­ess Bathurst was born in New Jer­sey, Amer­ica. She ar­rived in the UK with her Birken­head-born fa­ther Harold Ed­ward Clarry in 1945.

She first mar­ried so­lic­i­tor David Ruther­ston in 1965, in­her­it­ing four stepchil­dren. In 1978, she mar­ried the 8th Earl Henry.

She died on De­cem­ber 27.

“One hopes things will now be more peace­ful for the fam­ily,” the source said.

She un­der­stood money and power, and that was all she cared for. Fam­ily and

work in the com­mu­nity meant

noth­ing to her

SWNS

Lord and Lady Bathurst de­clined to com­ment on the death of the count­ess

Glo­ria Wes­ley, the Dowa­ger Count­ess Bathurst, died at her Manor Farm home, left

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