Castlefreke restoration runs into legal battle

The multi-millionaire brother of Lord Carbery has secured a High Court order freezing the assets of the woman he hired to restore the family’s abandoned gothic mansion, Castlefreke.

In 2005, Stephen Evans Freke, the youngest son of the late Peter Evans Freke — the 11th Lord Carbery — embarked on one of the country’s most ambitious restoration projects to return Castlefreke in West Cork to its former glory.

He hired Anna Oakes, who had previously overseen the restoration of the family’s other base, nearby Rathbarry Castle. She had also worked on the acclaimed renovation of actor Jeremy Irons’ Kilcoe Castle near Ballydehob.

On July 30, following a dispute about money spent on the project, Mr Evans Freke got an order restraining Ms Oakes from shifting her assets abroad and requiring her to remove her property from the Stable Cottage she was living in at Rathbarry Castle.

He had already secured an interlocutory injunction two weeks earlier, and this followed an existing circuit court order in which he got a judgment mortgage against two properties she owns.

Under the High Court order, Ms Oakes must keep assets worth up to €1m in Ireland and she is not allowed sell specific properties in this country, and a French property of which she is a part owner.

The order remains in place until a full hearing takes place later this year.

The assets freeze also covers five euro, sterling, and dollar accounts in Permanent TSB, Clonakilty, and her accounts at Ulster Bank, Bandon.

Gardaí have said the dispute is being dealt with as a civil matter.

The High Court order was made in favour of Mr Evans Freke and his investment company, Bodice Property Corporation. He was born in Meath but made his career in America and heads up a number of venture capital firms from his base on the US Virgin Islands.

In 2005, he looked to follow up on the successful restoration of Rathbarry Castle by buying back and rebuilding the gothic mansion at Castlefreke which, in 1870, was built on the site of an older ruin. The sprawling building was gutted by fire in 1910 and restored, but sold by the 10th Lord Carbery in the 1940s.

The current phase of restoration is partially complete.

Following the decision of Mr Justice John Gilligan in July, Ms Oakes was to be given access to the Stable Cottage at Rathbarry Castle to remove her personal belongings and take a Persian rug she owned from the loft apartment in the castle, where she was living before moving to the cottage.

She is also entitled to take horse jumps and equipment from the showjumping arena behind the castle.

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