Disgraced Lord Loses Country Fiefdom
LONDON (AP) _ Family, fortune, freedom: Lord Brocket has lost them all.
Now the luxury-loving lord, sent to prison earlier this year for a $7 million insurance scam, is losing his country fiefdom.
The stately Brocket Hall _ an 80-room, 543-acre estate north of London featuring parkland, a golf course and club house _ is up for sale. The property is being offered for $22.5 million.
Prospective owners are bidding not only on a piece of prime real estate, but a chunk of history: It was at Brocket Hall that Lady Caroline Lamb burned the poet Lord Byron in effigy, dramatically marking the end of their love affair.
Prime Minister Lord Palmerston died there in 1865, reportedly as he dallied with a maid.
In the 1980s, Lord Brocket, a friend of Prince Charles, turned the house into an elegant conference center that Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher used for summits with Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev.
Two family trusts have been forced to sell the property to repay bank loans Brocket borrowed to convert the estate into a conference center. Lord Brocket is reportedly opposed to the sale.
``I did not consult Lord Brocket on the decision to sell,″ said David Rocker, a lawyer appointed by the trustees to manage Brocket Hall’s conference center and golf course.
``I’m sure he wants the estate back _ who wouldn’t?″
It was not clear whether the 44-year-old Lord Brocket would receive any money from the sale after the bank is paid.
Knight, Frank and Rutley, the real estate broker handling the sale, would not say how many queries or bids it had received by last week’s deadline.
A buyer will be chosen within weeks, a spokeswoman for the realtor said.
Built in 1760 by the architect James Paine, Brocket Hall is set in softly undulating pasture land 25 miles north of London. Its red brick facade is mirrored in an ornamental lake created by damming the River Lea.
The property once belonged to Lord Melbourne, prime minister from 1834-41 and husband of the tempestuous Caroline Lamb, who reputedly had herself served up naked in a soup tureen in the ballroom as a birthday surprise for her husband.
In 1813, at the end of her affair with Byron, Lady Lamb burned the poet in effigy and had her maids _ who wore buttons proclaiming ``Don’t Trust Byron″ _ burn copies of his letters to her, according to history books.
Lady Thatcher wrote part of her memoirs at Brocket Hall after leaving office.
The house has 46 bedroom suites, banquet facilities for 150, and a private golf club that charges a $15,000 initiation fee.
An 18th century portrait by Joshua Reynolds and art worth an estimated $1.9 million will remain in the house for a year after the sale to allow the new owners to negotiate a purchase or have copies made.
Brocket was sentenced to prison in February for an insurance scam dating back to May 1991, when he claimed four classic sports cars had been stolen from his $31 million collection of vintage cars. At the time, his company reportedly had a $7.5 million overdraft.
Police found no evidence of a burglary.
Brocket said later he needed the insurance money to pay estate bills and because the car collection had depreciated.
He also blamed his state of mind on his collapsing marriage to former Vogue model Isa Lorenzo. The couple divorced last year, and she moved with their three children to Puerto Rico.
The hall was acquired in 1921 by Lord Brocket’s family, the Cain family, which traces its ancestry to Niall of the Nine Hostages, a fifth century king of what is now Northern Ireland.
Charles Alexander Cain was made the first Lord Brocket in that year. The current Lord Brocket, who is Charles Nall-Cain, the 3rd Baron Brocket, succeeded to the title in 1967.