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Millionaire property developer Kim Davies thought children’s 150-year-old gravestones added the perfect touch to the walls of his $2.4 million country mansion in South Wales.
The 60-year-old millionaire has been ordered by the court to pay $333,000 in legal fees for using the antique gravestones as decorative stone plaques for his walls and as flagstones for his patio, reports the Daily Mail.
The estate in question is the same historic 16th century Llanwenarth House in Abergvenny that was believed to inspire the famous hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful” by Irish composer Cecil Frances Alexander. The Grade II-listed house that the developer hoped to renovate and sell for profit holds significant national importance and is considered a “historical gem.”
The Newport Crown Court took matters into their own hands when they overheard of planners’ appalling reaction to the “decorate stone plaques” cemented into the walls as part of the estate’s makeover. Davies bought the historical home for $750,000 back in 2008 and spent over $1.1 million in renovations. He listed the mansion at $2.7 million in 2012, but it was not sold.
A Brecon Beacons National Park insider remarked:
“It is quite macabre. Why would anyone want to live in a house where the walls are decorated with the carved names of children who have died.
“There were quite a few gravestones with children’s names on them, they dated back to the 19th century, some of them were for babies.
“But these gravestones should not have been to decorate the house where All Things Bright and Beautiful was written.”
Among the gravestones taken from the derelict chapel in the village of Llechryd are those belonging to a family of three brothers and a sister who all died before they reached the age of 4. Davies, who owned the chapel at the time, left the graves of these children unmarked and unnamed at the disused Soar-y-Graig Non Conformist chapel. He bought the chapel eight years ago with the intent of turning it into a luxury home.
The millionaire tycoon was fined fined $66,700 and $266,800 for breaking planning laws after he admitted to five charges under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act of 1990. Judge Daniel Williams, who presided over the case, called his work on the seven-bedroom mansion “vandalism.” He added:
“You turned the house into something comparable to a hidden palace of an iron curtain dictator.
“An architectural expert said it was the worst damage he had seen at a Grade II-listed building in 25 years. What you did was criminal.”
Davies confessed to damaging the property by having undertaken 37 major alterations that included the installment of a shiny mosaic whirlpool jacuzzi, tearing down an Elizabethan staircase, fitting a modern kitchen, replacing 300-year-old carved stone windows with plastic ones, and damaging other valuable architecture.