A millionaire lord of the manor has set tongues wagging after he married his pregnant lover - who is 35 years his junior.

The 75-year-old 8th Viscount Gage, whose family motto is ‘courage without fear’, tied the knot at a low key church ceremony, 40-minutes drive from his own village church where his ancestors are buried and where lordly nuptials are normally conducted.

But word soon spread that Lord Henry Gage, whose home and grounds nestle in the South Downs at Firle near Lewes, is now sharing his 500-year-old family seat, his chateau-like mansion, his priceless Van Dyck, Gainsborough and Rubens paintings and his Chippendale furniture, with a 40-year-old lecturer.

Alexandra Murray Templeton, called Alex by friends and family, was single and is now expecting their child in August – and the couple have been told it’s a boy.

The new Viscountess is a senior lecturer at the school of arts and communication at Brighton University and, according to one source, met the shy Lord Gage while on a visit to his mansion five years ago One friend said: “The baby was planned and they are so very happy.”

Only 50 guests were invited to the ceremony at the 13th century Church of St Thomas A Becket in Framfield near Uckfield, East Sussex, but it was still too many to fit into the church’s small Gage chapel, named after the family, and so the couple had to marry in front of the main altar.

Most of the 200 villagers in Firle knew what was happening but stayed silent, especially about the age difference and the prospect of Lord Gage’s fatherhood at 75.

Even the vicar who took the service, Firle’s minister Rev Peter Owen-Jones, star of BBC 2’s Around the World in 80 Faiths, was unusually tight-lipped although he is reported as saying “love transcends all boundaries”.

A spokesman from his manor house Firle Place, said: “Lord Gage is unavailable and we are not authorised to say anything. I’m sorry.”

Henry Nicholas Gage, a regular fox hunter before the ban, was never one for courting publicity but his name occasionally has appeared in print. After divorcing Lady Diana Beatty in 1974 in 2004 high society magazine Tatler listed him as one of the country’s most eligible bachelors.

Lord Gage replied: "After the age of 69, I do not think one is terribly eligible. It's very flattering, although I'm a little surprised. This is the age of the older man I suppose."

He told the The Argus that prospective wives would have a difficult time because of the social expectations of the wife of the Lord of the Manor.

He said: "The village is a very good judge. It won't tolerate any airs and graces.

"When I was young and, hopefully, good looking, I never had a girlfriend. Now I'm old and hoary, I do. I'm much better with women than I used to be."