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Aristocrat who owns ‘Bridgerton stately home’ charged with attempted rape

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Honourable Simon Howard is facing allegations dating back to the early 2000s that involves one woman. However, the 65-year-old is said to be battling a health condition after suffering a brain haemorrhage after a fall last year.

Mr Howard, who was the custodian of Castle Howard for 30 years, appeared before York magistrates on Thursday, August 26.

He is facing two counts of attempted rape of a woman aged 16 years or over at an address in North Yorkshire between dates in 2003 and 2004.

He is also up for charges of indecent assault on the same woman, at the same address, also between 2003 and 2004.

He is expected to deny the charges.

A hearing is scheduled to take place in October.

The Howard family said in a statement in February that was issued through its publicist Abel Hadden that his condition is so severe his wife was told twice he may “only have hours to live”.

It said: “Following an interview under police caution at Scarborough police station on Wednesday 11 August, the Hon Simon Howard of Malton, North Yorkshire has been charged with two offences under the Sexual Offences Act 1956.

“The two alleged offences – attempted rape and indecent assault – involve an unnamed woman over the age of 16 and are said to have taken place at Castle Howard between June 2003 and February 2004.

“In early 2020 he suffered a brain haemorrhage after a fall and was put into a medically-induced coma before spending months at a neurological rehabilitation centre where he contracted Covid.

“His wife Rebecca was told on two separate occasions that he might only have hours to live.

“Simon Howard’s whole family are shocked by these new allegations and are 100 percent supportive of SH’s determination to defend himself against these alleged charges.”

Castle Howard was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and built between 1699 and 1712.

At least 10 generations of the family have lived there for more than 300 years.

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Charles Howard, the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, who lived between 1679-1738, is believed to be the creator of the house and gardens.

The 18th-century estate is currently owned by Castle Howard Estates Ltd, with Simon Howard and his older brother Nicholas being 50 percent shareholders.

The which has 145 rooms and is often described as one of the top stately homes in the UK.

Some of the prestigious artworks at the home include works by Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough.

It was also used in the TV series Brideshead Revisited, as well as Clyvedon Castle in Bridgerton.

Other notable shows that have used the castle for a location include ITV’s Victoria, Sky’s The Queen & I, BBC drama Death Comes To Pemberley, and feature film Garfield 2.

Sally Joynson, chief executive at Screen Yorkshire, praised Castle Howard for looking “magnificent on-screen”.

She said: “The global success of Bridgerton demonstrates Yorkshire’s robust credentials as a world-leading destination for filming and Castle Howard looks magnificent on screen in the drama, where it features as the location for Simon Basset’s estate.”

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