Dogs, cats, tortoises and gardener benefit from Miss Foyle's £59m will

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The Independent Culture

Christina Foyle, the eccentric proprietor of the London bookshop, left £59m in her will and singled out her gardener and the woman who looked after her cats for special legacies.

Christina Foyle, the eccentric proprietor of the London bookshop, left £59m in her will and singled out her gardener and the woman who looked after her cats for special legacies.

Miss Foyle, as she preferred to be known, also left money to the Battersea Dogs Home, the Royal Society of Arts, the Book Sellers Provident Association and the animal charity Cinnamon Trust, a spokesman for the store said yesterday.

Most of the money - about £50m - will go to set up a charity in Miss Foyle's name. She died at the age of 88 in June, bequeathing the famous Charing Cross Road bookstore to her nephew Christopher on her deathbed.

She had already written a will leaving £100,000 to Anthony Scillitoe, the gardener at her home - 12th-century Beeleigh Abbey at Maldon, Essex. She also left a £60,000 cottage on the estate to Maureen Harding, who looked after her 15 cats.

Mr Scillitoe took charge of her dog, Bobby, and her four tortoises, and her executors have been instructed to provide an income of £20,000 for the animals' upkeep.

In her will Miss Foyle, who had no children of her own, wrote: "My pets are very dear to me, and I want them to be well cared for."

The estate totalled £59,596,219 gross, £59,029,581 net. Relatives, friends and employees will also receive small bequests, including a shop assistant from Tooting who was given £2,000. Miss Foyle's jewellery and furs are to be distributed among her family.

Ian Marsh, her solicitor, said the executors of the estate had been given general instructions to establish a charitable foundation in Miss Foyle's name but that it had not yet been decided what form the trust would take.

The five-storey rabbit warren of a bookstore was run with an iron hand, and Miss Foyle resolutely refused to modernise. There were no electronic tills for the staff, who were forced to count on their fingers, and the 30 miles of shelving remained largely unaltered for 30 years. Buying a book involved taking a chit of paper from one desk to another in order to pay. One buyer described it: "Imagine Kafka going into the book trade."

In 1980 Miss Foyle said: "No one else has ever tried to run a place like this. If anything happened to me they would probably have to change things. The chaos would frighten most people."

The store was founded by William and Gilbert Foyle in Islington in 1904 and moved to its current site in 1929. Miss Foyle began working for her father, William, as a teenager, and at the age of 19 she set up the famous monthly literary lunches, which were to continue for more than 60 years. The speakers included Charlie Chaplin, Mary Quant, DH Lawrence and Haile Selassie. She took over the shop in 1945 after marrying a co-director, Ronald Batty.

With the advent of the Waterstones chain and online bookstores such as Amazon.com, the Foyles shop looks even more outdated than ever, but for the time being it continues to survive.

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