Will dispute relates to access to stately home

High Court battle following Earl’s death

A dispute has arisen in relation to the will left by one of Britain’s best-known aristocrats.

Gloria, the Dowager Countess Bathurst, wants to retain the rights to the “use and enjoyment” of Cirencester Park, the ancestral home of her late husband.

But the 89-year-old, who was the second wife of the 8th Earl Bathurst, is embroiled in a row with her stepson, who inherited the sprawling estate following his father’s death six years ago.

The Daily Telegraph has reported that the relationship between the pair has become increasingly strained.

The legal team representing the trustees claims that the Dowager Countess’ request to inspect the home’s heirlooms – with a view to making an inventory – was a “flimsy pretext” to gain access to the property.

Cirencester Park is estimated to have valuables worth in the region of £13million, including a particularly highly-regarded portrait of the Duke of Wellington.

Judge Simon Barker has heard evidence at the High Court, and will have to decide whether the Dowager Countess has a right to visit the property and inspect its contents. At present she occupies a farmhouse elsewhere in the grounds of the country house.

Judgment has been reserved, with a decision due to be made in December.