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War Over 'Worthless' Grass Strip

Updated: Aug 10, 2020

Two families have become embroiled in a bitter argument over a “worthless” 5ft strip of grass.

The legal wrangle over the land on the Nettlebed Estate, Oxon, began when neighbour Victor Bingham had several big trees cut down there 18 months ago.

Mr Bingham, a cousin of Lord Lucan, argues that the trees posed a danger to his tenant. But the landowners, family of Bond author Ian Fleming, disagree.

They say the land was not his to tamper with and are now claiming damages.

After the trees were chopped down, the Nettlebed Estate Trustees won an injunction in February 2004 banning Mr Bingham, 40, of nearby Henley-on-Thames, from setting foot on the land, which runs between their estate and his property, Kiln Cottage.

‘Gone wild’

The cottage is believed to be where Fleming wrote his first 007 novel, Casino Royale. It was sold to Mr Bingham’s family in 1960 by the author’s brother Peter.

The trustees are now seeking £5,000 damages and £120,000 in legal costs for both sides at Oxford County Court.

Mr Bingham and his tenant, his 63-year-old aunt, Rosemary McKenzie – a childhood friend of the heir to the Nettlebed Estate, Lucy Fleming – are both co-defendants at the hearing.

They want Kiln Cottage’s boundary extended and the injunction overturned.

The court heard on Wednesday how Mrs McKenzie moved out of the 17th Century cottage two years ago as it had fallen into disrepair.

Mr Bingham said there also appeared to be a risk from the trees that had “gone wild”.

Six months later, having begun a £150,000 renovation project, Mr Bingham had the trees he considered to be a danger cut down, the court heard.

He said he was advised by estate agents that if he ever wanted to sell the property the trees would have to go.

The hearing continues.


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