Lakeland mountain to be sold to pay IHT bill

Tuesday, 06 May 2014
In what is probably the first property disposal of its kind, Saddleback Fell in the Lake District is to be sold off to help pay inheritance tax (IHT) liabilities on the estate of the seventh Earl of Lonsdale.

Lord Lonsdale died in 2006, leaving the title and estate to his eldest son Hugh Lowther, but with an IHT liability of GBP9 million. His death also triggered lengthy litigation between the new earl and the trustees of the Lonsdale family trusts, concerning deeds allegedly signed by the seventh earl on his deathbed. This dispute ended in a settlement in June 2009, but it resulted in an irreparable family rift, and a long delay before the executors could even begin raising the cash to pay the IHT bill.

To this end the estate has already disposed of a Turner painting, Dawn View of Lowther Castle, sold to the Tate Gallery for GBP2 million. It has also sold a farm for GBP1.6 million.

The ten years allowed by HM Revenue & Customs to settle an IHT liability is now 18 months from expiry, and the estate still needs to raise a significant amount. This has prompted the offer of Saddleback, sometimes known as Blencathra.

The 2,677-acre parcel of land has little commercial value, as its grazing rights are owned by local farmers, it is open to free public access and it cannot be commercially developed. However, the offer price of GBP1.75 million also includes the ancient feudal title of Lordship of the Manor of Threlkeld. The Lowther family bought this title in the seventeenth century before being granted the Lonsdale earldom, and a new acquirer will be able to apply for their own personalised coat of arms.


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