With its towers and crenelated battlements, Eastnor Castle has the swagger and scale which made it the perfect setting for the wedding of Shiv and Tom in the hit television drama Succession, chronicling the machinations of media magnate Logan Roy and his toxic, feuding family.
But never assume that life at Eastnor plods along placidly just because cameras and crew have departed.
Last year, the castle – Herefordshire seat of James Hervey-Bathurst, a direct descendant of its creator, the 2nd Lord Somers – hosted the nuptials of Hervey-Bathurst’s eldest daughter, Imogen, when she married buccaneering Irish-American property mogul and TV personality Sean Conlon.
It was a sumptuous wedding for 350 guests, including billionaire Hans Rausing and his wife Julia, and was made all the more dazzling by the attendance of Hollywood royalty in the form of Michelle Pfeiffer, whose husband, David E Kelley, was one of a number of ‘Best Men’ chosen by Conlon.
But the magic of the moment has not, alas, endured. I can reveal that the couple have parted barely 14 months after exchanging vows.
‘It’s terribly sad,’ one of the couple’s friends tells me. ‘It was a spectacular wedding, and they made a lovely couple.’
Cynics might point to disparity in ages – Imogen, known as Imo, is 37, while Conlon is 17 years her senior – and background.
Whereas Imo is the eldest of her father’s three daughters by his first wife, Sarah, daughter of Viscount Ingleby, Sean – born in Birmingham to Irish parents – has known poverty and worked his way out of it.
While he was a child, his parents returned to Ireland but Sean’s father, a bus driver, did not prosper when he tried his luck as an entrepreneur’.
Aged 20, Conlon left to seek his fortune in America, doing whatever he could to survive in Chicago, including time as a janitor’s assistant. After taking night classes, he became a property broker, working 18-hour days – and, by 1997, earning a $1million bonus.
Later, he began financing properties and, later still, found fame on American television on The Deed: Chicago.
Friends say that it is these triumphs which put the marriage under severe strain. ‘Sean’s spending most of his time in America and the Caribbean, while Imo has just become a director of Eastnor and so has to be in Herefordshire or London,’ explains a friend.
‘They love each other and speak every day. They’re taking this time apart to figure things out.’
Imo’s family has experienced marital turbulence before. Her mother left her father in favour of his game-keeper – inevitably inspiring comparisons with D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
That liaison didn’t endure, but James Hervey-Bathurst found happiness with his second wife, the Duke of Rutland’s cousin, Lucy Manners, with whom he has had two more daughters.