Pictured: Jemima Khan has been caught up in a row over access to a cemetery on her £15million estate in Oxfordshire
Multi-millionaire Jemima Khan is caught up in a row over car access to a churchyard on her £15million estate as locals claim they cannot visit loved ones’ graves.
A couple who make the 80-minute round trip to the churchyard on special occasions say they often find they are locked out and on one occasion had to be let in by former prime minister David Cameron.
Ms Khan, a journalist and filmmaker now known by her maiden name of Goldsmith, bought Kiddington Hall, near Woodstock, Oxfordshire, in 2010.
She claims, through representatives, that there are measures in place to ensure access is available at any time of day.
A spokesman added that the gates are now kept locked as Ms Khan has had ‘an ongoing problem with two male stalkers’.
The Grade II listed stately home has 466 acres of surrounding landscaped parkland including St Nicholas’ Church in the grounds.
There is pedestrian right of access to the churchyard but car access and parking is by courtesy.
Christopher and Wendy Earl, from Cowley, Oxon, make the 80-minute round trip to the church on special occasions to lay flowers on family members’ graves.
They say while the previous owner used to leave the gate open for visitors to the graveyard, they now routinely find themselves locked out.
Mr Earl said: ‘We turned up one day and we could not get in. I have double arthritis and walk with two sticks. Walking up is difficult, not just for me but for any disabled person.
‘The previous owner of the Hall always left the gate open, it’s been like that forever. We never had a problem until it was bought by Jemima Khan.
‘We wrote to the Bishop of Oxford and he passed us on to the Bishop of Dorchester. Apparently, they were meeting with Jemima Khan and it was resolved.
‘There was a buzzer system so that we could call the Hall for access and someone would open the gate.
Pictured: Kiddington Hall, a Grade II listed stately home in Oxfordshire, has 466 acres of surrounding landscaped parkland including St Nicholas’ Church in the grounds
‘But we went in August and nobody was around at the Hall and it was only because some people were driving out that we could get in.
‘Last week, the buzzer was not working at all.’
Miss Goldsmith, who is the daughter of financier Sir James Goldsmith and former wife of ex- cricketer and now Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, reportedly paid £15 million for the estate described as a ‘jewel in the heart of Oxfordshire’.
Mrs Earl added: ‘I spoke to a young gardener and asked him what the problem was with the buzzer system and he said there’s nobody in the hall to open the gate and all the staff had a day off. So we had to walk around again.
‘One time we were there they would not open the gate and luckily David Cameron turned up, taking his daughter horse-riding and he had the code and let us in.’
The home features nine bedrooms, five bathrooms, five reception rooms, an orangery and tennis courts.
Dating back to 1673, Kiddington Hall sits in parkland designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, the 18th-century landscape architect.
There are three further houses and cottages, a farm, woodland and a lake on the estate, as well as the church and graveyard.
Revd Stephen Jones, the Vicar of Wootton, Glympton and Kiddington, explained that although the pedestrian access is a legal right of way, the driveway is not.
He said: ‘It’s a problem we have had, this has come up before. The difficulty is we should be able to press a button and someone should answer.
‘It was not resolved because we have not got the right to demand entrance. People coming to the gate should be able to get an answer through pressing the button on the machine.’
Mrs Earl said: ‘If there’s nobody to answer the buzzer then surely they should leave the bottom gate open.
‘They said originally it was because they had a burglary but anyone can get in anyway because there’s a pedestrian gate.’
A spokesperson for Jemima Khan said the gardener who is resident on the property gave his personal mobile to the couple in question, in case they ever needed to gain vehicular access in the future.
She added: ‘There has always been a prominent sign up beside the gates indicating that you can ring the bell to gain vehicular access at any time of any day including weekends (it is currently being repaired after someone drove into it!) and the gates are always open for church services.
‘The gate was not left open before by the previous owner- it didn’t exist. Jemima reinstated the original gate for security reasons after having an ongoing problem with two male stalkers with criminal records.
‘She has never had any complaints and all of her neighbours have been very understanding about the situation.’