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EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Sir Terence Conran's family in dark over reason for £15million sale of estate


He married four times, fathered five children and revolutionised the nation’s shops and restaurants — amassing a fortune of tens of millions as he did so.

But I can reveal that the final dream of Habitat founder Sir Terence Conran has turned to dust — less than two years after his death aged 88.

Known for his unbounded lust for life and for women in particular — ‘Terence,’ observed a friend, ‘loves pushing secretaries into cupboards’ — Conran channelled his energies into one last passion: creating ‘a thoroughly modern, sustainable estate for the 21st century’.

This would, he hoped, secure the future of Barton Court, a 17th-century manor house near Hungerford in Berkshire he bought as a wreck in 1971 and magnificently restored.

The final dream of Habitat founder Sir Terence Conran has turned to dust — less than two years after his death aged 88. Pictured: Sir Terence Conran with his wife Vicki

The final dream of Habitat founder Sir Terence Conran has turned to dust — less than two years after his death aged 88. Pictured: Sir Terence Conran with his wife Vicki

Both the house and the estate, according to one visitor, were to be 'overseen by the Conran family'. But no longer: I can reveal that the house has been sold for £15 million, despite Conran's vision, which included selling fruit and vegetables from greenhouses and a massive walled garden

Both the house and the estate, according to one visitor, were to be ‘overseen by the Conran family’. But no longer: I can reveal that the house has been sold for £15 million, despite Conran’s vision, which included selling fruit and vegetables from greenhouses and a massive walled garden

Both the house and the estate, according to one visitor, were to be ‘overseen by the Conran family’. But no longer: I can reveal that the house has been sold for £15 million, despite Conran’s vision, which included selling fruit and vegetables from greenhouses and a massive walled garden.

Members of the family appear to be in the dark about quite why the sale has gone ahead. One tells me that it is the executors of Conran’s will who are selling the property, not his widow, Lady Conran.

The interior designer Vicki Davis married Sir Terence in 2000 at Chelsea Town Hall. His children — Sebastian and Jasper by his second wife, Superwoman author Shirley Conran, and Tom, Sophie and Ned by his third, cookery writer Caroline Herbert — only learned of it later.

That was no accident: Conran’s children, it was playfully said, needed an appointment to see him.

The executors of his will decline to comment. But I can disclose that Vicki has already left the house and a new family has moved in.

(Very) modern manners

Transgender issues are increasingly divisive, but they’re a cheering subject for Daisy Knatchbull.

The great-granddaughter of the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma made history when she became the first designer to have a women-only shop front in London’s Savile Row, at her outlet The Deck.

And now she’s cashing in on a new clientele. ‘With gender fluidity and all of this, I really want the word to get out that if you identify as a woman, and if you feel comfortable in women’s clothing, I’m not going to close our doors,’ Knatchbull, 29, says.

‘We’ve had so many people who are gender fluid and just want to wear women’s clothing.’

The designer, whose father is Philip Knatchbull, boss of arthouse cinema chain Curzon, adds on the Personal Threads podcast: Someone that might be in the process of transitioning… we can help.’

Hunting’s out, eco activism is in says Viscountess

'We have four children and none of them are interested in traditional country sports, such as shooting,' says Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, 50, who starred in reality TV series Ladies Of London

‘We have four children and none of them are interested in traditional country sports, such as shooting,’ says Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, 50, who starred in reality TV series Ladies Of London

When yoga-loving American Julie Montagu was being wooed by Viscount Hinchingbrooke, heir to the 11th Earl of Sandwich, he shot three wild boar at his 2,000-acre Mapperton estate in West Dorset and presented them to her as a welcome gift.

Now, however, the couple’s offspring are rejecting blood sports in favour of radical eco-activism.

‘We have four children and none of them are interested in traditional country sports, such as shooting,’ says Viscountess Hinchingbrooke, 50, who starred in reality TV series Ladies Of London. ‘They would rather take us on a climate strike.’

The family is now ‘rewilding’ 438 acres to boost the estate’s biodiversity. She tells Spear’s magazine: ‘Rewilding is in part our response to [the children’s] priorities, and they will ensure that Mapperton develops in accordance to their values and concerns.’

It figures Daisy is good with money

Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley is one of this country's highest-paid showbusiness figures

Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley is one of this country’s highest-paid showbusiness figures

Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley is one of this country’s highest-paid showbusiness figures, and she’s clearly inherited her mother’s gift for finance.

I hear that Daisy, the daughter of banker Louise Fawkner-Corbett made a cool £1.3 million from investments in the last year.

The figure is included in newly published documents for Fawks, the business through which she channels her earnings.

There is no salary disclosed for Daisy, 30, who used to pull pints before getting her big acting break, but the accounts show that she borrowed £2.7 million from the company last year.

It’s now worth £13.5 million, an increase of almost £1 million.

Mick’s a scream in Ronnie’s painting

Ronnie Wood, 75, who's a keen artist, has created this work featuring current and past members of the group to mark their 60th anniversary

Ronnie Wood, 75, who’s a keen artist, has created this work featuring current and past members of the group to mark their 60th anniversary

Yikes! What on earth has Ronnie Wood done to his Rolling Stones band mate Sir Mick Jagger?

The guitarist, 75, who’s a keen artist, has created this work featuring current and past members of the group to mark their 60th anniversary.

But, while most members are depicted in a flattering light (especially Ronnie himself), poor Mick (top left) looks like he’s being attacked from behind with a red-hot poker.

Wood’s painting brings together the Stones founding members: Jagger, 79 next week, Brian Jones, who died in 1969 aged 27, and Keith Richards, 78. They are joined by Bill Wyman, 85, and Charlie Watts, who died last summer. They were part of the line-up from 1963.

The two others are Mick Taylor, 73, who was in the band from 1969-74, and a self- portrait of Wood, a member since 1975.

Some famous faces are able to go about their normal lives more or less undetected by the public, but Josh O'Connor is almost instantly recognised — by his ears

Some famous faces are able to go about their normal lives more or less undetected by the public, but Josh O’Connor is almost instantly recognised — by his ears

Josh’s ears give a stand-out show for his latest fans

Fame: Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles in The Crown

Fame: Josh O’Connor as Prince Charles in The Crown

Some famous faces are able to go about their normal lives more or less undetected by the public, but Josh O’Connor is almost instantly recognised — by his ears.

They helped win him a role as Prince Charles in Netflix hit The Crown, but they mean that he does rather stand out from the throng.

Here, he can be seen surrounded by fans asking for selfies as he went for a leisurely cycle ride in the sunshine in Whitehall, Central London.

O’Connor, 32, who also starred as Larry in The Durrells, admits that his most prominent features did give him a career boost.

‘When I was at school, I was embarrassed by them and I wanted to pin them back, and now it’s, like, ‘Thank God I didn’t!’ he confesses.

The actor — who is going out with Margot Hauer-King, 28, daughter of celebrated restaurateur Jeremy King — has said that he finds fame ‘overwhelming’.

With all the revelations about Prince Charles and his donors, Prince Andrew and his scandals and the Duchess of Sussex’s ‘bullying’ probe being buried, reading the newspapers can sometimes be an onerous task for the Queen.

So now she’s seeking an avid newspaper reader to work for her.

Buckingham Palace wants someone who can read the daily press and inform her secretaries of what is making the news.

The £25,000-a-year research and government assistant will ‘monitor both UK and Commonwealth Realms’ media coverage and produce regular summaries of matters of interest to the organisation’, says the ad on the royal website.

Probably best to highlight the positive coverage when briefing HM.

 

  • His well-upholstered figure suggests he may be overdoing the comfort food, but help’s on hand for Prince Andrew, courtesy of Joe Wicks.
  • The ‘Body Coach’ is about to embark on a week-long tour which takes in Sandringham, the Queen’s Norfolk estate, where Wicks will lead a work-out.
  • A golden opportunity, surely, for Andrew to ditch the bourbon biscuits and hit the burpees.
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