A FORMER housekeeper of the Dowager Countess Bathurst has appeared in court charged with stealing £500,000 of art and antiques.

Kim Roberts, of Lower Church Street, Colyton, Devon, appeared at Gloucester Crown Court this week accused of taking items including a Picasso sketch while she worked at the Dowager's Cirencester and London homes as a housekeeper and personal assistant.

Her defence team told the court that she would be pleading not guilty and had in fact been given the items after working for the Dowager Countess Bathurst, after she had worked for her for less than a month.

She is charged with three charges of theft - two from the Dowager Countess and one from a previous employer.

She will appear back in court on August with a three day trial planned for the start of November.

The Dowager Countess Gloria lives in a farmhouse on her family's Cirencester Park Estate and is the widow of the eighth Earl Bathurst, Henry, who died in 2011 aged 84.

The charges against Ms Roberts include theft at Sapperton between April 30 and May 21 last year of art and antiques to the value of approximately £500,000 belonging to the dowager Countess Bathurst.

She is also charged with stealing antique vases between April 30, 2013, and August 20, 2013, from the Dowager's London home in Kensington and with stealing a £10,000 Volvo XC90 on October 21, 2012. The Volvo was allegedly stolen from Drayton House in Drayton Foliat, Wiltshire, the home of previous employer Emily Olympitis.

Prosecutor Julian Kesner said the defence had informed him Ms Roberts will plead not guilty to all charges and there will definitely be a trial.

Ms Roberts was released on bail pending the trial.