Celebs behind the wire

Stars seeking privacy are under fire over public rights, reports Mark Rowe

THEY view it as a question of the right to gawp rather than the right to roam. Fortress celebrities - high-profile millionaires who retreat to their castles and erect fences and Keep Out signs - are under fire.

The pop idol Gary Barlow last week informed members of a fishing club that they can no longer have access to a lake in the grounds of his home which they have used for 50 years.

Mr Barlow's agent said that intruders keen to get a glimpse of the star had been regularly escorted off his 60-acre estate, Delamere Manor, near Nantwich in Cheshire. "It would be impossible for Gary to distinguish between locals wishing to fish and people whose curiosity has got the better of them," he said.

The former Take That singer is not the first celebrity to pull up the drawbridge to his country home; nor is he likely to be the last.

There are, of course, celebrities motivated by justified fear. Only last week a stalker was convicted after having been found with a "rape kit" outside the gates of the film director Steven Spielberg's home in California. Spielberg was so worried by the man's obsession that he hired armed off-duty police to guard him and his family 24 hours a day. He fortified his home, sent minders to watch over his children and had constant protection on the set of his latest film, Amistad.

There is rarely a question of the star in his castle doing anything illegal by denying public access: Gary Barlow was simply exercising a previously unenforced right. Others simply exercise the strength of their wallet: Sir Paul McCartney has bought hundreds of acres and several farms around his estate on the Mull of Kintyre. Security is obviously a concern, but apparently Sir Paul never ceases to be amazed that Beatles fans continue to make the arduous pilgrimage to the farm's borders.

His efforts look like shutting out the locals for good. His estate is already sealed off by forests to the north and rocky peaks to the west, and Keep Out signs are all around.

Film star Daniel Day-Lewis and his wife, Rebecca, daughter of the playwright Arthur Miller, also crave privacy. Their 100-acre estate in Annamoe, Co Wicklow, is surrounded by woodlands and invisible from the main road but the actor is reported to have bought additional land around the property.

However, the stars do not always win. The composer Andrew Lloyd Webber was thwarted when he sought to divert a footpath that runs through the grounds of his 18th-century Sydmonton Court home in Hampshire. Although the diversion was approved by the county council, the order was quashed by an Environment Department inspector after the Open Spaces Society obtained a public inquiry.

"He felt the path would mean that walkers would mingle with his guests," said Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the society. "But it's a beautiful route and the diversion took all the enjoyment out of the walk."

The society is now in the middle of a fight with the showbusiness entrepreneur Robert Stigwood over his Barton Manor estate on the Isle of Wight. Part of the coastal walk around the island is on the estate and Mr Stigwood has steadfastly resisted appeals by the Ramblers' Association to allow access.

Miss Ashbrook, whose interests in Who's Who include "pedantry and finding illegally blocked footpaths", argues that landowners' motives for barring people from land are misplaced. She said: "It is actually safer to have public access. If someone wants to do something nasty they're less likely to do it if they think someone might come along and see them. It's better to have public watchdogs."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones
tvSeries 5, Episode 3 review
News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence