Friday, December 17, 2010

Phillips-Wilson nuptials

Today's Daily Telegraph includes an engagement announcement for Mr. Edward P.N. Phillips and Miss Marina F.E. Wilson.  Edward Phillips is the son of the late Nicholas Phillips and Countess Maria-Lucie Czerin.

Nicholas Phillips inherited Luton Hoo, a stately home in Bedfordshire, in 1977 after the death of his grandfather, Sir Harald Wernher, Bt.   He wanted to develop a business park, Capability Green in the 1980s, and, unfortunately, amassed major debt, which was exacerbated by the property crash in the mid-80s. He committed suicide on March 1, 1991.  Nicholas Phillips was 43 years old.  His widow, Lucie,  tried to maintain Luton Hoo, which was filled with priceless antiques, including a large Faberge collection.  Nicholas's grandmother, Lady Zia Wernher, was the elder daughter of Grand Duke Michael of Russia and Countess Sophie Torby.  She and the executors of the estate had struggled to pay off the £23 million debts left by Nicholas.  She sold some of the family's artwork, and Luton Hoo was also rented out for concerts and film locations, most notably for Four Weddings and a Funeral and for a BBC version of Rebecca -- the house became Manderley.

In September 1997,  Luton Hoo was put on the market for £25 million.  The house was in a dilapidated condition.  Elite Hotels bought the estate in 1999 with plans to turn the house into a grand hotel.   The Russian Orthodox Church has been deconsecrated and is now used for meetings.

Edward's first cousin, Lady Edwina Grosvenor, was married several weeks ago to Dan Snow.

I visited Luton Hoo some years ago.  A lovely home to visit, and I loved all the family photographs on display in what was then the tea room.

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