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Charlotte Townshend

Areas: Holland Park and parts of Kensington

Much of Holland Park and the surrounding area is owned by the Ilchester Estate, which in turn is owned and controlled by the twice-married keen huntswoman Charlotte Townshend. Residents include Michael Winner and pop star Bryan Ferry, but the landlady is largely absent, preferring to leave the management of the Estate to others. She spends much of her time in Dorset, where she is joint master of the Cattistock Hunt. The Ilchester also owns large areas of the West Country, including the Fleet and Chesil Beach. Her support for the fox-hunting lobby was such that in 1999 she wrote to Baroness Young, chairperson of English Nature, cancelling an agreement to turn the beach into a nature reserve because of the Government's 'astonishing and highly misguided proposal to ban hunting on English soil'. Some observers say that she would not be opposed to the formation of a Holland Park foxhound pack. Not one of the great benevolent landladies but few complaints either.


An outbreak of bird flu at her Abbotsbury swannery in January was a blow for Townshend, 53. Charlotte Townshend has substantial land in Dorset, where she lives. Townshend has six farming and estate companies, plus property and other assets that keep her on £400m.


Charlotte Townshend
£386m Inherited 40 acres of Holland Park from Viscount Galway
She was once considered the country's most eligible woman and owns 40 acres of real estate in London's exclusive Holland Park. But Charlotte Townshend prefers to live amid the tranquillity of Dorset with her land agent husband, James, whom she wed in 1995. The 15,000-acre estate she inherited on the death of her mother in 1989 includes the picturesque Abbotsburry Swannery and Chesil Beach. Daughter of the 9th Viscount Galway, Townshead is a country sports enthusiast and joint master of the Cattistock Hunt. She is a staunch opponent of Labour moves to ban foxhunting, and her husband is Dorset chairman of the Countryside alliance. A slight increase in her London 'manor' takes the 48-year-old's fortune to £386m

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Owning swans is a privilege only one landowner shares with the Queen - Charlotte Townshend

Swans mean so much to Charlotte Townshend that when her only son was born, she followed an ancient tradition and laid the infant down in a swan's nest.

She is the only person in Britain other than the Queen entitled to own swans.

Wealthy Mrs Townshend, 52, who like the Queen never carries money, has claimed: "I don't feel rich."

Rather than live a life of idle luxury, she plays an active role in managing her vast estates.

* Bird flu kills three swans at nature reserve - Charlotte Townshend

The only surviving daughter of the 9th Viscount Galway, she is used to appearing in lists of the richest people in the country, and was not afraid to generate more publicity when she once prominently stood up against New Labour's ban on foxhunting.

Yet Mrs Townshend - who is nicknamed Blot --will be struck to her very core by the arrival of bird flu at her swannery at 14th Century Abbots-bury Manor, near Weymouth in Dorset. The swannery was bought by her ancestors from Henry VIII in 1543.

A racehorse owner, she regularly rides her horses to see the swans at dawn.

She inherited her fortune from her father, who died in 1971, and her mother, Lady Teresa, daughter of the 7th Earl of Ilchester, who died in 1990. Both her brothers died in accidents.

Her vast estates include the 15,000 acres surrounding her Dorset home, Melbury.

Charlotte Townshend also has 3,000 acres in Nottinghamshire, more properties in Yorkshire, and almost 40 acres in central London, mostly in Holland Park, one of the most exclusive parts of West London.

The value of her Holland Park estate is immense. Among the properties she owns is the freehold of the 48-room mansion occupied by

film director and restaurant critic Michael Winner.

It is said to be worth £35million.

Mrs Townshend was first married to art dealer Guy Morrison. They had a son, Simon, now 22, but divorced after three years.

She had a long relationship with married Captain Ian Farquhar, a friend of the Prince of Wales and joint master of the Duke of Beaufort's Hunt.

But she went on to marry her second husband, divorced land agent James Townshend, whose ex-wife Olivia did not approve.

Mr Townshend has been an activist with the Countryside Alliance.

Mrs Townshend, a joint master of her local Cattistock hunt, came into conflict with Tony Blair at the end of the Nineties over his opposition to foxhunting.

Charlotte Townshend had been poised to sign an agreement with English Nature to make Chesil Beach a national reserve - but pulled out in 1999 because of the looming hunting ban.

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