Woman claims monks are trying to drive off her business by staring ‘creepily’ at her

Melanie Meigh, left, claims the monks, right, are trying to intimidate her (Picture: SWNS)

A woman claims a brotherhood of monks is trying to drive out her business by staring “creepily” at her.

Melanie Meigh, the owner of a wildlife park, photographed a monk who she claims stared at her for more than half an hour.

The 58-year-old believes it is part of a “passive aggressive” campaign to drive her off the rented land within the 300-acre grounds of Prinknash Abbey in the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire.

Ms Meigh, who runs The Bird and Deer Park on land leased from Prinknash monastery in 1978, has clashed with the monks on several occasions.

They first locked horns in 2016 when she tried to stop the monks’ £3.5million plan to build luxury homes on the car park used by her visitors.

The monks also objected to her expansion proposal - telling planners that the wildlife area was becoming “a theme park incompatible with a working monastery”.

They also objected to her holding Halloween parties for young visitors - claiming it was a pagan celebration.

Ms Meigh, who took over the business after her father's death in 2008, has ploughed £1 million into improvements - and boosted visitor numbers to 40,000 a year.

The dispute is over land at Prinknash Abbey(Picture: SWNS)

She cannot be forced to leave because she has protected tenancy status under the 1977 Rent Act.

The Catholic monastic order preach about how peace and spirituality can be found through silence and prayer.

Benedictines do not take a full vow of silence but the monks strictly adhere to hours of silence set by the abbey and limit social conversations to defined times.

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Ms Meigh said the row moved to a whole new level when the monk stood staring at her from monastery land.

She said: “I felt genuinely threatened by his creepy behaviour.

"It was very uncomfortable. He just stood there watching me when I was in the middle of nowhere.

"When I asked him to leave he refused saying he was on their property not mine, so he had obviously thought it through.

"It was very unpleasant and I found the whole thing quite upsetting."

She says the monk made some of her visitors feel “unsettled” so she took a picture and took it to police.

Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire (Picture: SWNS)

A spokesperson for Gloucestershire Police confirmed an officer visited the abbey after the complaint.

The spokesperson said: “We can confirm that no formal complaint has been lodged in respect of this incident therefore there is no police investigation.

A spokesperson for the Prinknash trustees said: “Prinknash Abbey is aware of the allegations made by Melanie Meigh that have been reported in the press.

"However, as there is an ongoing dispute with Ms Meigh, which is currently the subject of court proceedings, it would not be appropriate for the Abbey to comment at this time.”

The three-year dispute between Ms Meigh and Prinknash Abbey is being heard by the Competition Appeal Tribunal this summer.

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