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Aristocrat charged with attempted rape of a woman

An aristocrat whose family owns a stately home which featured on Netflix smash hit Bridgerton has been charged with attempting to rape a woman.

The allegations against Honourable Simon Howard, 65, date back to the early 2000s and involve one woman but he is in poor health and it is unclear if he will be fit to stand trial at all.

For 30 years Howard was the custodian of Castle Howard, which is considered one of Britain’s great stately homes and became famous as the setting for Brideshead Revisited in the 1981 TV mini series.

More recently Castle Howard, which has been home to ten generations of the Howard family for more than 300 years, featured as a setting in the Netflix lockdown hit, Bridgerton.

Honourable Simon Howard (pictured), 65, has been charged with attempting to rape a woman

For 30 years, Howard was the custodian of Castle Howard (pictured), which became famous as the setting for Brideshead Revisited in the 1981 TV mini series and featured in Bridgerton

For 30 years, Howard was the custodian of Castle Howard (pictured), which became famous as the setting for Brideshead Revisited in the 1981 TV mini series and featured in Bridgerton

He appeared before York magistrates on Thursday August 26th accused of three offences against one woman.

He faces 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 and a further count of indecent assault on the same woman, at the same address, also between 2003 and 2004.

It is expected he will deny the charges.

The Howard family issued a statement through its publicist Abel Hadden.

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.

Castle Howard, which has been home to ten generations of the Howard family for more than 300 years, featured as Clyvedon Castle in the Netflix lockdown hit, Bridgerton (pictured)

Castle Howard, which has been home to ten generations of the Howard family for more than 300 years, featured as Clyvedon Castle in the Netflix lockdown hit, Bridgerton (pictured)

On Bridgerton's (pictured) release, Sally Joynson, chief executive at Screen Yorkshire, said that Castle Howard looked 'magnificent on screen in the drama'

On Bridgerton’s (pictured) release, Sally Joynson, chief executive at Screen Yorkshire, said that Castle Howard looked ‘magnificent on screen in the drama’

Castle Howard, which has 145 rooms, is considered one of the finest stately homes in the UK and featured in the classic TV series Brideshead Revisited (pictured)

Castle Howard, which has 145 rooms, is considered one of the finest stately homes in the UK and featured in the classic TV series Brideshead Revisited (pictured)

‘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 per cent supportive of SH’s determination to defend himself against these alleged charges.’ 

According to a statement, 'the two alleged offences - attempted rape and indecent assault' are said to have taken place at Castle Howard (pictured) between June 2003 and February 2004'

According to a statement, ‘the two alleged offences – attempted rape and indecent assault’ are said to have taken place at Castle Howard (pictured) between June 2003 and February 2004′

Back in 2014, Simon Howard, his wife Rebecca (both pictured) and their two children left the 10,000 acre 18th century estate

Back in 2014, Simon Howard, his wife Rebecca (both pictured) and their two children left the 10,000 acre 18th century estate

Castle Howard, which was designed by Sir John Vanbrugh and built between 1699 and 1712, has been home to ten generations of the Howard family for more than 300 years. 

Castle Howard, which has 145 rooms, is considered one of the finest stately homes in the UK and also doubled as Brideshead in the classic TV series Brideshead Revisited, as well as Clyvedon Castle in Bridgerton.

It boasts a magnificent art collection which includes ancient sculptures, Old Masters and works by Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough. 

Castle Howard and the wider 10,000 acre, 18th-century estate is owned by Castle Howard Estates Ltd, of which Simon Howard and his elder brother Nicholas were each 50 per cent shareholders. 

The estate was the fictional Brideshead, both in Granada Television's 1981 adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited and a two-hour 2008 remake (pictured) for cinema

The estate was the fictional Brideshead, both in Granada Television’s 1981 adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and a two-hour 2008 remake (pictured) for cinema

In 2014 Simon Howard, his wife Rebecca and their two children left the 10,000 acre, 18th century estate.

Nicholas, 68, and his wife Victoria Barnsley, 66, were reported to have held a summit with Mr Howard in which he was told they would be moving in to replace him.

To be asked to leave the ancestral seat where he had lived all his life and run as a ‘tight ship’ for 30 years ‘ripped out his heart’, friends claimed.

He and Rebecca, 53, a descendant of the Sieff family who founded Marks and Spencer, moved out of the house with their then 12-year-old twins and took up residence at sprawling manor house Welham Hall in Malton. 

The Howard family are descended from Lord William Howard, the youngest son of Thomas Howard, the 4th Duke of Norfolk.

Lord William, known as ‘Belted Will’ took possession of Henderskelfe in Yorkshire, the site of Castle Howard as it stands now, as part of the inheritance of his wife, Elizabeth Dacre.

Charles Howard, the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, (1679-1738) is credited as the creator of the house and gardens at Castle Howard as it is seen today.

The estate was the fictional Brideshead, both in Granada Television’s 1981 adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and a two-hour 2008 remake for cinema.

It has also hosted ITV’s hit series Victoria, Sky’s The Queen & I, BBC drama Death Comes To Pemberley, and feature film Garfield 2. 

On Bridgerton’s release, Sally Joynson, chief executive at Screen Yorkshire, 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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