Earl of Cardigan 'tried to sell silver'

Henry VIII Henry VIII met Jane Seymour at the Savernake Estate

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The Earl of Cardigan tried to sell silver belonging to his historic estate, a High Court judge has heard.

David Brudenell-Bruce and trustees of his Savernake Estate in Wiltshire are engaged in a legal dispute over the ownership of estate property.

Trustees said the earl had tried to sell the silver but the earl says the claims are unfounded.

Mr Justice Floyd made an order on Friday temporarily preventing the earl from selling estate property.

Thomas Entwistle, representing the trustees, said the earl had tried to sell "estate silverware" under a "variety of pseudonyms".

He argued the earl was not entitled to sell the property because trustees had "title" as part of a legal agreement.

He told the London court that the trustees had "serious" and "legitimate" concerns about the earl's conduct.

'No money'

A previous hearing at the Court of Appeal was told that trustees wanted to sell paintings on the estate to raise money but the earl wanted to block the sale.

Henry Hendron, the earl's barrister, told the court that his client needed to raise money or "go hungry".

He said there were about 22 silver plates worth about £14,000 which were "locked in a cupboard" and "not used from one year to the next".

"The earl's concern is simply to obtain sufficient funds to put food on the table," Mr Hendron said.

"We would like to sell the plates. We need the money. We have no money. It is raising money that way or go hungry.

"That is the stark reality of my client's situation at the moment. It is one that is unfortunate for such a distinguished gentleman."

The court was told the earl had written in an email to trustees that: "This panic I am selling off the silverware is simply unfounded."

'Remain anonymous'

Mr Hendron said there was no need for the temporary order and added that the earl had not tried to mislead trustees.

The earl had used pseudonyms for many years in order to remain anonymous, he added.

Mr Justice Floyd granted an injunction preventing the earl from selling estate property pending a trial.

He ruled he should pay all the legal costs of the latest round of the dispute, estimated at about £30,000.

The judge also ordered the earl to make an interim costs payment of £10,000.

The 58-year-old earl's 4,500-acre family estate at Savernake, near Marlborough, was once a regular deer-hunting haunt of King Henry VIII.

On one outing to Savernake he met Sir John Seymour's daughter Jane and within 24 hours of Queen Anne Boleyn's execution in 1536, was betrothed to her.

After the hearing the Earl of Cardigan disputed the evidence that he was short of money.

The earl said: "I was astonished to be described as 'down and out'. "I own half a stately home that has a re-build insurance value of £23m and half a forest worth who knows what. I am not 'down and out'."

He said he planned to engage another legal representative.

In response, Mr Hendron said he used the term "down and out" to describe how the earl had "no cash flow", "no income" and "no money coming in".

He said he had acted in accordance with his professional duties and done his best for his client.

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