FROM SCRATCHWOOD TO WYCHWOOD

Outer Pomgolia

Tew's fate with that of Glympton, just down the road. In 1988 the village was bought; farms, buildings, homes and stream, by Australian media and yachting tycoon Alan Bond, as only a man with $4 billion in debt can afford. It was part of an estate of 2,000 acres, sold by Stella Towler, widow of property tycoon, Eric. Five hundred people were threatened with redundancy, and in many cases homelessness, as modern economics rationalises the English countryside. The villagers were not encouraged by Mr Bond's wife, who described England as "Outer Pomgolia".

In fact, Bond was seduced by the status of Lord of the Manor, and made little more change to Glympton life than an occasional barbecue. He listened to tenants' protests and maintained Glympton in the ways of old. Bond's initial investment cost him, or someone, 11 million. A couple of years later, a slump in property values, and Alan Bond's plunging debts forced him to sell, at a reputed loss of 6 million.

Mr. Bond is now serving time for fraud.

The new owner is anonymous, reputedly a Saudi Arabian prince. Presumably, such a Lord would be accustomed to feudal ways, but who can be sure?

Perhaps the lesson to be learnt from the modern history of Tew and Glympton is that too little change can be a dangerous thing, for it makes that big, disastrous change all the easier, and all the more devastating. Unfortunately, the people who are hurt most by such tides of history are those with least influence in their shaping.

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