Lady Molesworth's Home Improvement

* Iona Molesworth St. Aubyn--"Lady Molesworth" to the locals who live around Pencarrow, her 18th-century family estate in Cornwall, England--recently learned that the lead-and-slate roof on her 100-room house urgently needs repair. That could cost $500,000 or more. Luckily, she has some scraps of paper to sell.

Next Wednesday in London, Sotheby's will auction off the Pencarrow Collection--more than 200 items including inked letters from Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee, plus a previously undiscovered string quartet written in Ludwig van Beethoven's own hand. Lady Molesworth has kept them safe in red leather-bound volumes. "It was largely collected by Mary Ford, whose brother, Sir William Molesworth St. Aubyn, lived here in the 19th century," she told us by phone. At 65, Lady Molesworth is an army colonel's widow who followed her husband, John Molesworth St. Aubyn, their three children in tow, everywhere from Singapore to Northern Ireland, and settled at Pencarrow 25 years ago. "The house had been empty for 18 years. The whole place was bust, and the gardens were overgrown," said Lady Molesworth, who lives on the 2,000-acre estate with her dogs, Sam and Jackson. "It has been an enormous amount of work, doing a bit of everything, to bring it back to life. . . . I think the strain of it was why my husband died last year."

To defray maintenance costs--$8,000 a year alone just to repatch the mile-long macadam drive--Lady Molesworth charges tourists 5 pounds each to walk through the house and stroll the grounds. But that is not enough--hence the auction. "We've got to have a new roof."

Keith Sims's Movie Guide

What a guy! Nursing a bad knee and girding himself for the Detroit Lions, Redskins offensive guard Keith Sims refuses to fall down on the job of being The Source's resident film critic. His reviews:

* "The Bachelor": "I saw this movie accidentally--I went to see 'Dogma' but it had already started--and I found it pleasantly surprising--a little comedy with Chris O'Donnell and Renee Zellweger about a guy who wants to get married but then he gets cold feet: What if she isn't the right one? What if the next great supermodel is just around the corner? But his memories of how great his bachelorhood is and how bad it actually was are very different when he revisits various women he dated. It made me laugh. Two-and-a-half footballs."

* "Sleepy Hollow": "It's a very dark movie, and scary, but I really enjoy director Tim Burton's stuff. Great story line and it has my favorite bad guy, Christopher Walken, in it. The headless horseman was excellent. Three footballs."

* "Toy Story 2": "My favorite. Took the kids. The computer graphics were even better than in the first one, and there were a lot of jokes for adults, too, while it kept the kids' attention. They loved Buzz Lightyear. Four footballs."

House Rich

* America Online mogul and Caps owner Ted Leonsis and his wife, Lynn, just paid about $5 million for this 15,000-square-foot Georgian-style house on five acres in McLean. The mansion is now on display as Southern Accents magazine's "Capital Design House," but the Leonsises plan to redo the interior and also knock down a cottage on the property to make room for a swimming pool, guest house and--why not?--a skating rink.


* As he tucked into the Beverly Wilshire Hotel's walnut milk chocolate mousse cake Wednesday night, Hillary Rodham Clinton's old friend Dick Morris told a bunch of media types, including The Post's Sharon Waxman: "Hillary's Senate campaign is Bill Clinton's 'I'm sorry' gift. This is his marital comeback strategy. If she runs for Senate, she'll need him to raise money. If she runs, she'll lose. If she loses, she'll need him. But if she wins, she'll divorce him."

* Our congratulations to Emil Corwin, a 96-year-old press officer at the Food and Drug Administration who's retiring after 37 years in government work. "I'm going to be working here till the end of the year and then I'll give it some thought, what I'll do in my retirement," the Chevy Chase widower told us yesterday, after FDA Commissioner Jane E. Henney threw him a goodbye party. "If I take after my father, who lived to be 110, I'll be the busiest guy you ever saw."

* That weird and wacky Sandra Bernhard headlines tomorrow night's Ryan White Youth Service Awards benefit concert at the Lincoln Theater.

Got a hot tip or a nagging question? Dish with Lloyd Grove today at 11 a.m. EDT at liveonline.