EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Anger as Pippa Middleton evicts tenants from new £15m ... trends now
The decorations may now be down and the trees disposed of, but for tenants at Pippa Middleton and James Matthews's £15 million country estate this has been the last Christmas any of them will spend in their current homes.
I can disclose that they were served with eviction notices before festivities got under way — and have greeted them with dismay and anger. Some tenants have rented their homes from the Berkshire estate for decades.
'We've been told we've got to get out, so we've got to get out, haven't we?' one disgruntled tenant tells me.
He adds that this cannot be equated with the ending of a short-term rental agreement. 'We've been on this estate for 40 years. My mum and dad also live down the road. They've been told they can stay — for the moment — but I have to move. We rented all these outbuildings, too, so I'm clearing them out now. Forty years of stuff.'
Pippa Middleton and James Matthews pictured attending the Miles Frost Fund party at Bunga Bunga in Covent Garden in 2017. The couple have served notice on tenants living in their £15million Berkshire estate
Pippa Middleton and James Matthews pictured on their wedding day leaving St Mark's Church in Englefield in 2017. Among the tenants served notice is a children's home which offers a healing environment for those who have experienced trauma
Distressing though the upheaval is for those who are leaving their homes, they are aware that there is one group of residents for whom the eviction could prove especially upsetting. These are the occupants of a registered children's home which offers a healing environment for those who have experienced trauma.
Carers confirm that they have been given notice, but refrain from further comment. One of their neighbours assures me that the children's home has had a tenancy for 'many years'.
A friend of Pippa and James confirms that the tenants have been served with eviction notices, but claims that the children's home received its order to leave last summer, before the couple took ownership of the estate. 'They want the estate to be a family property,' the pal explains.
Another local tells me that, even before eviction notices were issued, it was clear that change was under way at the estate, which the Princess of Wales's sister, 39, and her investment banker husband, 47, bought last year.
Last week, I revealed they were installing a mammoth pool in what had been a wonderful kitchen garden, as well as adding a tennis court.
Pippa Middleton pictured with her then-fiance James Matthews at the Disability Snowsport UK ParaSnowBall in London in 2017. Sources say the couple want to turn the estate into a family property
'You used to be able to walk into the grounds, but not since they bought it,' the local alleges. 'They've put up more signs and CCTV. It's all kept hush-hush. We don't see them around.'
Nevertheless, the couple's influence is keenly felt, with residents alleging that all fishing on the estate is now private whereas, in the era of the previous owners, some streams had been publicly accessible. A friend insists there is still public access from Monday to Thursday.
Another local adds that anyone straying a yard or two off a public footpath to pick blackberries risks reprimand from a gamekeeper. 'It seems unfair when you're not causing any damage,' he tells me. 'It's a bit over the top. Wasn't like that before.'
But perhaps Pippa and James will derive some satisfaction from the rueful observation of one departing tenant. 'They've done everything by the law,' he says. 'But money talks, doesn't it?'
Lord Bath pays £18.5m to divorcee with Nazi relative for Churchill's last home
The 19th-century town house where Sir Winston Churchill drew his last breath has been bought by a couple already blessed with one of Britain's most celebrated homes.
I can disclose that the Marquess of Bath and his wife, Strictly star Emma Weymouth, have purchased the Grade II-listed property in London's Kensington for £18.5 million. The Marquess's ancestral seat is Longleat House in Wiltshire.
They bought Churchill's home from a multi-millionaire divorcee whose former husband's Nazi-supporting grandfather was convicted at the Nuremberg trials.
The Marquess of Bath, Ceawlin Thynn, and his wife Emma Weymouth, pictured at the 10th Annual Filmmakers Dinner in France 2019
Pictured: The home of Donatella Flick near Hyde Park after she bought it for £2.5million in 1996
Friedrich Flick, a leading backer of the Nazis, was one of the Circle of Friends, a group of industrialists set up to create links between businesses and the Third Reich. He was sentenced to seven years in jail.
Donatella Flick, who was married to Friedrich's grandson Muck, bought the house near Hyde Park for £2.5 million in 1996. She has defended Friedrich, claiming his imprisonment