It seems that Mark Getty, who inherited Wormsley Park, a mansion dating back to the sixteenth century and 2,500-acre estate, from his dad, Paul Getty, has two sets of values. According to The Observer, he claims that he wants the Garsington Opera, which moved to Wormsley this year, ‘to be complemented by educational and other cultural activities, giving wider public access to the estate’.
On 25 April this year, the estate destroyed Ibstone footpath 5 by ploughing up the grass field which it crosses. The field and path were deep ploughed so someone could easily sprain or break an ankle. I rang the estate office the next day to report it and was told the gamekeeper would deal with it (the field was to be planted with a game crop), but nothing happened, despite repeated requests. On 1 May, it was further disturbed and not marked out within 24 hours (after the first disturbance, a crossfield path must be reinstated within 24 hours). I rang the gamekeeper who made excuses about it being too dry – but he was well aware of where the path ran.
Then on 24 May the estate began to erect fence posts in the field, crossing the line of the path in two places.
Of course I objected immediately, and the estate told me that the manager had been up there and said it was OK – yet even the gamekeeper (who was on holiday) would have known it was not OK. Ignoring our objections, the estate installed electricified wire between the posts, thereby committing the offence of path obstruction.
I then involved Bucks County Council rights-of-way department and, after much correspondence, the estate grudgingly moved the fence on 6 June so that it no longer obstructs the path.
But now of course the path has become a headland (field-edge) one, and the law says that headland paths must never be disturbed. So Wormsley should have reinstated and seeded the path to give it a firm, permanent surface. Needless to say, it has not done so.
But back to Mr Getty’s promise to give wider public access to the estate – you can see why I, and many others, are sceptical.