TRUSTEES of a 1,000-year-old aristocratic estate in Cornwall were accused of “modern feudalism” yesterday over plans to sack workers with a total of 70 years’ service between them.
The 6,000-acre Port Eliot Estate in Cornwall has been owned for centuries by successive earls of St Germans.
The 10th earl died in July, and as his heir — his grandson Albert — is only 12-years-old, the estate will be run by property management firm Savills Rural.
The estate is understood to have lost £500,000 last year, and Savills Rural has announced redundancies among the workforce of gardeners and estate maintenance workers.
Among those facing the sack in February and March are four members of union Unite.
Between them they have 70 years’ service to the estate and its aristocratic owners. The longest-serving estate employee has been there for 36 years.
Unite regional officer Nick Owen said the four workers were “devastated.” He said: “Finding adequately paid work in Cornwall is hard at the best of times, so, unfortunately, the employment future for our members at present looks bleak.
“The St Germans family has apparently forgotten the concept of ‘noblesse oblige’ — the unwritten obligation of people from alleged noble ancestry to act honourably and generously to others.
“We strongly suggest that the family lives up to these socalled aristocratic ideals and rescinds these cruel redundancies that smack of modern feudalism.”