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Security worries for Murdoch's daughter
MEDIA boss Rupert Murdoch’s daughter and her PR tycoon husband claim their Oxfordshire home has become a target for thieves and intruders.
Elisabeth Murdoch and her husband Matthew Freud want to construct a lodge housing a full-time guard at the entrance of their Grade I-listed home in Burford.
The couple say they have repeatedly been victims of burglaries, leaving them concerned about the safety of their six children, aged between four and 14.
The Freuds bought the Burford Priory, which dates back almost eight centuries, four years ago for £6.5m.
While the main entrance in Priory Lane is in a prominent position in the town, they say an isolated entrance in Sheep Street has left their home vulnerable to intruders.
Plans have been submitted to West Oxfordshire District Council for a lodge with extensive living quarters – including two bedrooms and kitchen – for security staff.
The application says thieves struck at night two years ago, breaking down the gate and driving their vehicles through the existing Sheep Street entrance.
Property, including mowers, valued at £80,000 was taken from buildings next to the Priory.
A second theft is said to have taken place when the swimming pool was being built.
In the planning submission architect Alan Calder, based in Chipping Norton, says: “Intruders who have jumped over the boundary wall in Sheep Street have been seen in the woodland of the property.
“It is considered that security of this large site cannot be provided at the Sheep Street entrance in any other way than an occupied lodge. “It is considered that there is a genuine essential operational need for a full-time guard at this entrance.
“A physical presence is required at the entrance to monitor people entering and leaving this site and to prevent a repetition of the recent burglaries and problems with unauthorised intruders.”
Mr Calder adds: “Left unmanned especially at night, it is considered there is a danger of a repeat break-in and burglary.
“An occupied lodge, especially when lit at night, is considered a strong deterrent to stop thieves and intruders entering the property.”
The submission also states the safety of the couple’s six children should be an important consideration.
The architect says the rectangular lodge would be set back from Sheep Street to minimise its frontage.
He said it would it would fit in with the character of the area and fit into the woodland setting, being a “low key and unassuming design of natural stone walls and steeply pitched stone slate roofs in the Cotswolds tradition.”
The application is expected to go to the council in September.
The couple declined to comment.
For decades Priory was occupied by monks and nuns who moved out in 2008. Benedictines had occupied the historic priory since 1949 when the Society of the Salutation of Mary the Virgin, a community of nuns, bought it.
In 1987, when the nuns had dwindled to six, monks moved in.
The Priory is mentioned in documents from 1226 when Henry III gave it to the Hospital of St John the Evangelist.