Cumbria's Corby Castle centre of £1.5m family legal row

Cumbria's Corby Castle is at the centre of a £1.5m legal battle between father and son.

Philip Howard, 49, has started a High Court legal bid against his father, sixth baronet Sir John Howard-Lawson, to "recover his inheritance".

Mr Howard says his father, 76, "forfeited" his right to inherit the castle by neglecting to comply with the dictatorial terms of an ancestral will.

The castle dates from the 13th Century and was in the family for 400 years.

Christopher Pymont QC, for Mr Howard, argued the inheritance by-passed Sir John in 1962 because he had failed to respect his great-grandfather's wishes and had never validly inherited Corby Castle and its thousands of acres of land.

In his will, Philip Canning Howard dictated that, in order to inherit Corby Castle, his heirs must change their surname to Howard and take up the family coat of arms within a 12-month deadline, London's High Court heard.

Sir John initially took over the estate, but sold it in 1994 with the house's principal contents sold at auction.

'Estate unviable'

The court heard that Mr Howard, a business consultant, is suing his father - seeking to recoup £1.5m from the proceeds of the sale.

In his evidence, Sir John, who represented himself, insisted that he had begun to use the name Howard during the crucial 12-month timespan ending in January 1962, and had done his utmost to comply with the terms of his great-grandfather's will.

The baronet claimed the family had had to sell up and leave Corby Castle after his son, Philip, had got into financial difficulties after taking on a major part of the estate.

"The result was that the whole estate became unviable, and there was no way out but to sell it and leave," he told the court.

Mrs Justice Proudman reserved her decision on the case until a later date.

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