General News

Lloyd Webber's delight at saved castle

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Oct 24, 2010 | 2:15pm EDT

The Phantom of the Opera composer, whose estimated worth is approximately $1.1 billion, launched a bid for Highclere Castle in Berkshire, England after its owners announced they faced closure because they needed $17.6 million (£11.8 million) for repairs.

The owner of the stately home, Lord Carnarvon, had planned to build houses on the sprawling estate to finance the property and snubbed Lloyd Webber's offer, insisting it was "not for sale", blasting him for making an "unsolicited offer".

But Lloyd Webber has cancelled his plans to try and take over the property now that it is to be saved in a restoration project, thanks to British TV show Downtown Abbey.

And the theatre impresario is pleased with the outcome.

He tells Britain's Sunday Express, "May I express my joy and relief that the success of the series Downtown Abbey has led the Earl of Carnarvon to announce that its 'star', Sir Charles Barry's wonderful Highclere Castle, has been saved. I, along with the Highclere Society and the North Wessex Downs Preservation Society, was concerned when the Earl proposed to develop housing in swathes of the north Hampshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

"My concern for the area combined with my love of architecture was behind my interest in exploring whether the castle, which is not lived in, could ­possibly become a publicly accessed long-term home for my art collection.

"Now it has emerged that the ­television series will generate enough income to save the castle and, ­presumably, the proposed development need not take place. This is truly a ­fantastic outcome."

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