The Daily Mail has posted an update on the recent auction sale of Piers Court, Waugh’s former residence near Dursley. The article by James Fielding is entitled: “Defiant Evelyn Waugh superfans are STILL living in the literary giant’s £3M Cotswold home… four months after it was sold.” Basically, according to the Mail, there is little to report:
A couple of defiant Evelyn Waugh superfans who are living in the literary giant’s £3million former home in the Cotswolds for a peppercorn rent are refusing to leave the mansion four months after it was sold. Helen Lawton, 62, and her partner Lebanese financier Bechara Madi, 60, pay just £250 a year to live in the Grade II listed Georgian manor as part of a complicated arrangement with the trust that owned it – but are now digging in their heels and refusing to leave. The pair don’t answer the door to callers in case it’s bailiffs coming to evict them. Neighbours say they never see Ms Lawton, who is described as a larger-than-life ‘Hyacinth Bucket’ character.
MailOnline couldn’t get a reply when we called at the imposing eight-bedroom Piers Court in the Cotswolds village of Stinchcombe. But voices could be heard from inside, the central heating and TV were on and the couple’s pet bulldog could be seen at a downstairs window. Mr Madi later told us: ‘We are still residing at Piers Court. We are in the middle of a legal battle and are unable to make any comments as this could prejudice our position.’
After recounting in some detail the story of the auction sale as reported late last year and described in numerous previous posts, the Mail’s article concludes:
The new owner bought the mansion without seeing it – Mr Madi and Ms Lawton refused to show prospective buyers around or have the extravagant rooms and grounds photographed for the auction brochure. It’s not the first time the couple have been involved in a property dispute. They took landlords of their £5m apartment in London’s Cadogan Square – the most expensive residential street in the UK – to a property tribunal in 2015. Now they are in another legal battle which may go to the High Court if a solution can’t be found. Meanwhile outside contractors are keeping the lawns cut and hedges trimmed while the occupants are continuing to answer their door.
The Mail’s online edition has several lavish illustrations, some not included in previous articles. One near the end of the article shows Waugh’s wife Laura as a bride, posing prior to their wedding in April 1937. She is standing next to a formal-suited young man, described erroneously in the caption as Evelyn Waugh. This individual (apparently a teenager) is too young to be Waugh and doesn’t look at all like him. It it is probably Laura’s brother, Auberon Herbert, who was a reluctant member of the wedding party and opposed their marriage wholeheartedly. He was 16 at the time and was responsible for giving away the bride, which would explain his formal dress. The caption, also erroneous, states: “Waugh used the money from his wife’s father to purchase Piers Court.” The money came from Laura’s maternal grand mother, Lady de Vesci, not her father, who had died in 1923 (Stannard I, 449).