Maxwell's son sells up, but the memory of Cap'n Bob is too precious to part with

Fourteen years after Robert Maxwell fell to his death off the side of his yacht in mysterious circumstances, the spirit of the disgraced publishing baron was evident at a giant garage sale yesterday in the shape of the uniform that the late tycoon wore as a captain in the North Staffordshire Regiment.

In a final financial ignominy, Kevin Maxwell, younger son of the former Mirror Group owner, was being forced to peddle his possessions as he and his family prepare to leave their Elizabethan mansion. But the uniform was one item that was not up for grabs. Kevin's wife, Pandora, 47, confided: "We haven't really sold it. My husband just put the sticker on to stop anyone buying it because he changed his mind about selling it. It is just too sentimental to sell."

There were other mementoes of a time when Cap'n Bob plundered the Mirror Group's pension fund before leaving his son the biggest British bankrupt in history. They included a glass globe with the inscription Maxwell Communications, and a small ink set from the directors of IPC Magazines on the occasion of his 60th birthday.

There was a time when Mrs Maxwell - "no nonsense Pandora" - would throw cold water over unwanted visitors to the 11-bedroom Moulsford Manor on the banks of the river Thames in Oxfordshire. But yesterday anyone with cash to flash was invited in to sample the wares, much of which was described by a visitor as "tat".

Kevin and his brother Ian may have been acquitted of criminal charges relating to allegations that they helped their father, but the younger brother's finances have not fared well. Having failed to pay off a £3m debt to the bridging loan company Lexi Holdings, the family managed to stave off the humiliation of eviction and bailiffs by selling the mansion. Mr Maxwell described the buyer - reported to be the Isle of Wight businessman Kerry Hamer - as an "acquaintance" before the county court. But yesterday Mrs Maxwell insisted the new occupant was no friend and "came via the estate agent".

Kevin Maxwell looked uncomfortable as he stood behind a table in the marquee while his wife took the money. Describing the goods on show as "an accumulation of things people dump on you when you have a large house", the 46-year-old self-employed property consultant added: "This is a good way of getting rid of as much as possible. Moving is always stressful and I will be happy when it is over."

Some of the goods were reminiscent of a time when the family were millionaires. A museum paid £750 for a kilt and sporran owned by the tycoon. An ornate early 19th-century wooden door, imported from Oman, was on sale for £1,200, alongside antique carved drawers, vases and a dagger. But much was simple household goods which will now find a home in a far less opulent setting.

One neighbour said she was searching for cheap furniture for her 20-year-old son's university digs. "I saw the sign in the village advertising the sale and I love bargains. I was looking at the boats in the garden, which include a kayak and rowing boat. My husband is desperate for a Canadian canoe," she explained.

Stone paving slabs from the seven-acre formal gardens leading to the banks of the river were sold at a knock-down price. Even their seven children were helping out, with 17-year-old Ella parting with her doll collection.

Mrs Maxwell added: "What you see on sale today is only 10 per cent of what we must dispose of. The rest we are going to auction. All we need is enough money to feed the children and keep them healthy and happy."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
News
i100
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
people
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

Systems Developer Technical Lead

£65000 - £70000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based i...

Energy Engineer

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy En...

Techincal Accountant-Insurance-Bank-£550/day

£475 - £550 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Technical Accountant-Insuran...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment