Theirs was, indisputably, the wedding of the year, boasting among the guests everyone from Queen Camilla to Mick Jagger – accompanied by Jerry Hall – not to mention Hugh Grant and Elizabeth Hurley.
But it seems that now, in the year they celebrated their silver wedding anniversary, Henry Dent-Brocklehurst and his wife, model Lili Maltese, may be experiencing something of a cost of living crisis – albeit of the sort that afflicts the castle-owning classes.
For tomorrow, at Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire, which Henry’s family acquired in 1837, having made its fortune as glove-makers, they’re flogging a diverting collection of chattels – everything, in fact, from a watercolour by Gainsborough and 18th century Flemish tapestries, right down to some of the clothes off Henry’s back.
In among the 141 lots, including some ‘blingtastic’ jewellery like a gold and ruby ‘skull bracelet’ (£800-£1,000) and a Versace gold and diamond ‘dress ring’ (£600), are three of his leather jackets, each bearing an estimate of £600-£800.
It’s an extraordinary contrast to previous Sudeley sales featuring stupendous works of art worth millions of pounds.
Hard times: Henry Dent-Brocklehurst and Elizabeth Hurley, who attended his wedding
Grand: At Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire, which Henry’s family acquired in 1837, having made its fortune as glove-makers, they’re flogging a diverting collection of chattels
The year before his wedding, Henry offloaded a 17th century masterpiece, Temps Calme by Poussin, to the Getty Museum in America for £15 million. Also sold for £10 million was The Lock by Constable. The following decade, a Turner went to an American buyer for £5.4 million.
Henry’s mother Elizabeth – who, after her first husband, Mark Dent-Brocklehurst died aged 40, married Camilla’s uncle Lord Ashcombe – voiced her regret: ‘We have needed to sell to maintain the castle. We have very large bills and only a smallish income from farm rents.’
This time, Lady Ashcombe, who retains an apartment at Sudeley, refrains from comment. So do Henry, 57, and his sister, curator Mollie, who at one point abetted the artistic ambitions of Roman Abramovich’s third wife, Dasha.
A local grandee voices his sympathy. ‘It is the most bloody enormous house. Keeping the roof on is a constant drain,’ he assures me. ‘The income from people going round [the castle] is never going to be enough.’
Grandson of hero hardly ‘bombing’ it
His grandfather, ‘Bomber Harris’, inspired the adoration of his men as the uncompromising head of Bomber Command in World War II.
But Tom Assheton, who co-hosts the Bloody Violent History podcast, has just been shot down in proverbial flames – for doing 25mph in his 60-year-old Morris Minor.
‘Sadiq Khan keeps putting 20mph limits on roads you’ve driven along for 30 years with 30mph limits,’ an incandescent Assheton tells me.
‘You go round a corner and it’s 20mph. They’re popping up everywhere. I don’t know how much money they’re making out of it, but it must be a fortune.’
He doesn’t dwell on how his grandfather Arthur might have reacted to 20mph limits. ‘He drove rather fast,’ reflects Assheton, mentioning an occasion during the blackout when a policeman warned Bomber to slow down so as to avoid killing anyone. Bomber didn’t miss a beat.
‘I kill people every night,’ he replied.
Wyman’s under his wife’s thumb
Bill Wyman is reunited with The Rolling Stones on their new album, but his once hard-living bandmates might be in for a shock if he invites them round for dinner.
Bass: Bill Wyman is reunited with The Rolling Stones on their new album, but his once hard-living bandmates might be in for a shock if he invites them round for dinner
For his wife has banned alcohol at their home in Chelsea, West London. ‘We keep a dry house,’ Wyman tells me. ‘It started when my girls were small.’ The bass guitarist, 87, has three grown-up daughters with businesswoman Suzanne Accosta, 64.
Wyman has never been a big drinker, but if he fancies a tipple, he pops to his local where he used to drink with late footballer George Best.
Mums’ night out for Rosie
As A Marks & Spencer’s lingerie model, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is not shy about showing off her underwear, even when out on the town.
The Devon-born model, 36, wore a see-through black lace dress that showed off a plunging bodysuit underneath, to the inaugural Mothers’ Ball at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington, West London.
Model: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is not shy about showing off her underwear, even when out on the town
Rosie, who has two children with Hollywood hardman Jason Statham, says she found it hard to adapt to motherhood.
‘For a period after I had my first son, there was a real shift in identity, and a sort of mourning of the loss of your old life, and who you were,’ she says.
‘I just remember feeling like the rug was pulled out from underneath me.’
Why Emerald says stars shine the same
Emerald Fennell has directed stars including Carey Mulligan and Rosamund Pike, but she says no one gets the red-carpet treatment on set.
‘Everyone is completely equal, so everyone has the same crappy, two-way trailer,’ the Oscar winner, 38, says.
‘We have a green room, where all the actors, whether they have one line or lead, stay so there’s no kind of being in isolation in your enormous trailer on your phone.’
The daughter of society jeweller Theo Fennell adds: ‘It’s just a waste of time, it’s a waste of money and it’s designed to make actors distrust each other… and I’m not interested in it.’
Talent: Emerald Fennell has directed stars including Carey Mulligan and Rosamund Pike, but she says no one gets the red-carpet treatment on set
Lady Antonia Fraser spent last Christmas in hospital after being injured in a near-fatal accident.
Happily, the distinguished historian, 91, is full of vim and vigour again. ‘I’m going to many events,’ the widow of playwright Harold Pinter tells me at the Wolfson History Prize ceremony at Claridge’s in Mayfair. ‘I’ve got a book party tomorrow.’
Dame Antonia adds: ‘I’m going to be writing a book. I probably shouldn’t mention it, but it’s going to be called The Diary Of A Jolly Old Lady. I just thought it was such a good title.’
Bonkbuster author Jilly Cooper is not attracted to online dating apps.
‘They’re awful,’ she tells me at The Oldie literary lunch at the National Liberal Club in London, where she was promoting her new novel, Tackle!. Cooper, 86, explains: ‘If you turned up on a date to meet someone you met online who you thought looked nice, then they look awful, you’d be too kind to say, ‘Sorry, I’m going home’. It can work, but it’s a bleak world.’
Never one to let a sales opportunity pass, King Charles has announced a special edition of whisky to celebrate his 75th birthday. There are only 1,500 bottles of the single malt – sold through his Highgrove shop. It’s said to blend heritage Plumage Archer barley from his estate, matured in bourbon, port and ex-red wine casks for rich red fruit and nutmeg notes. However, at £175, it may not be to everyone’s taste.
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