'Penny-pinching Hurley' failed to donate to wedding church

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The Independent Online

The recently married millionaire couple Elizabeth Hurley and her husband faced embarrassment last night after they were accused of "grubby penny pinching" for failing to donate to the country parish whose vicar blessed their wedding.

Hurley, the British model turned actress, wed Arun Nayar at the 15th century Sudeley Castle, in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire, at the family seat of her friend, Henry Dent-Brocklehurst, in March.

The high profile celebrity wedding – attended by the likes of Donatella Versace and Elle MacPherson – whipped up excitement in the sleepy town but was kept under the tight-knit control of Hello magazine exclusivity. After a civil ceremony in the castle's library, the wedding was formally blessed in the small chapel of St Mary's, at Sudeley, by the Rev John Partington, the local vicar. Mr Partington did not charge the usual £1,000 to meet costs for such a ceremony, but it is understood that the parish was under the impression a larger donation would be made after the showbiz wedding.

Yesterday, members of the church revealed their dismay that none was forthcoming.

"We do normally charge a fee before a wedding. There are a number of costs we have to cover," said Sue Williams, the parish treasurer. "For the choir, organist and vicar to attend, the bill normally would be in the region of £1,000. I suppose we were hoping for a bit more than that, but we haven't received a penny from them... Even the not well off make a financial donation, which is normally a few hundred pounds."

Money is badly needed for another church in the parish, St Peter's. But instead of a financial donation, it was reported that the couple are planning to donate to the chapel 12 kneelers, which Mrs Williams said this would not be helpful.

"Given the choice, we would prefer the money without a doubt," she said. "I'm sure they haven't discussed this idea of buying kneelers with anyone in the church. We need money to pay the gas bill, for new hymn books and a new boiler. Kneelers aren't very high on our list of priorities.

"It's been a big topic of conversation in the parish. We had this big high-profile wedding and she didn't give the usual donation."

Rupert Chislett, the vice-chairman of the Friends of Winchcombe, said: "I think people feel genuinely aggrieved at this rather sordid piece of squabbling about a sum of money Liz Hurley can easily afford to pay. It does seem to be a slightly grubby case of penny pinching."

A spokesman for Liz Hurley said: "Elizabeth and Arun have commissioned a dozen, hand-embroidered kneelers to donate to St Mary's Church at Sudeley Castle, for all worshippers and visitors to enjoy."

"Maybe we were naive and should have stuck with our normal charges," Mrs Williams added ruefully. "We'll know next time she gets married."

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