Savage Messiah: Ken Russell > Savage Messiah: Ken Russell

Ken Russell's former wife contests will of mother's lesbian lover


Iain Fisher:
I think he would cast her as the murder victim.

This screams to be made into a film by Ken, with his casting his ex-wife in the film. But will he cast her as the heroine or the villainess?

Iain Fisher:
It sounds like the start of an Agatha Christie mystery.

In the next chapter a body is found in the library and you have to work out who killed the person and why


Ken Russell's former wife contests will of mother's lesbian lover

By Andy McSmith
Thursday, 26 June 2008


Hetty Baynes was given a star role by her ex-husband Ken Russell

The case of the sculptress, her £2.3m estate, an elderly lesbian with Alzheimer's disease and her severely indebted actress daughter reached London's High Court yesterday.

The actress is Hetty Baynes, who wrote and starred in the 1993 erotic short film, The Insatiable Mrs Kirsch, directed by her then husband, Ken Russell. Recently, she has found acting parts hard to obtain, and has run up heavy debts as she seeks to re-establish herself as a writer.

She has gone to court hoping to obtain a substantial legacy from the estate of the sculptress Mary Spencer Watson, whose Four Symbols of the Evangelists can be seen in Wells Cathedral.

Spencer Watson, who died in 2006 aged 92, is recognised as one of the leading sculptors of her time. In her will, she left her home, Dunshay Manor Estate, near Purbeck, in Dorset, to the charity, The Landmark Trust. The house, with 15 acres of land and two cottages, is valued at £2m. She left other assets, including investments and works of art, totalling £300,000. She was the long-term lover of the beautician, Margot Baynes, the actress's mother, and supported Hetty Baynes financially like a daughter, the judge was told.

Ms Baynes, of Battersea, south London, is seeking to have her debts of £160,000 paid out of the estate. She also wants to use it to buy a £570,000 three-bedroom house in the Clapham area,plus £7,500 for a car, and £25,000 as a financial cushion for her and her 15-year-old son.

"In the months before her death, Mary was actively exploring methods of raising substantial capital to discharge Hetty's debts and buy her a house. That is the result that Hetty seeks in her claim," her counsel, Thomas Dumont told the court.

Margot Baynes, who is 90 and has Alzheimer's disease, is also suing the estate through her granddaughter Melissa. There was provision for her in the will, but her lawyers argue that it is not enough and that she needs at least £1.5m for 24-hour care.

But Jeffrey Terry QC, for the Landmark Trust, argued that their claims would destroy Ms Spencer Watson's dying wish to keep the Dunshay Manor Estate intact. He accused Hetty Baynes of being a financial disaster zone who finds it "impossible to live within her means", who had frittered away the "handouts" she had received while Ms Spencer Watson was alive and now wanted to "plunder" her estate.

Her first flat was bought for her by Ms Spencer Watson. She bought a house when her five-year marriage to Russell ended in divorce. In 2001, she was given money by Ms Spencer Watson for a deposit on another property. In 2002 Ms Spencer Watson added a codicil to her will saying that money from the residue of her estate after Dunshay Manor would go to Margot, then Margot's children, except Hetty "because she has already benefited". Mr Terry said: "Her history makes plain that any money conferred on her will be squandered: it will only be a matter of time before she is penniless and in debt again."

He also described the claim that Margot needed £1.5m for her future care as "quite fantastic" and "out of all proportion" to the £2,500 a year Ms Spencer Watson paid while she was alive.

The Spencer Watson family bought Dunshay Manor in the 1920s. The relationship between Mrs Baynes and Ms Spencer Watson began soon after Hetty's birth in 1955.

Ms Baynes, described by her counsel as a "very capable actress" debuted as a dancer at the age of 12 in Rudolf Nureyev's The Nutcracker. But Mr Dumont said that since Ms Spencer Watson's death, she had "slid further into debt" with liabilities of £160,000. She faces losing her home in August. The case continues.


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