London | United Kingdom
Britain is well known for its element of peculiarity and owing to this non-conformism style of doing things, Britain has introduced the world to some the quirkiest and most eccentric characters throughout history. One of these oddball Brits was The Lord Berners, Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt-Wilson, an eccentric member of the aristocracy, British composer, novelist, painter and aesthete whose residence was at the infamous Faringdon House in Oxfordshire.
Lord Berners gained popularity through his unique orchestral scores, popular opera as well as his ballets. He further gained popularity through the publishing of some novels as well as four autobiographies. Lord Berners lived at Faringdon House until his death in 1950.
This fine Elizabethan brick house located near the Parish church of All Saints attained its legendary status in the first half of the 20th century thanks to the eccentricities of Lord Berners. It is in Faringdon House that Lord Berners would host his extravagant parties that were typically characterized the outlandish behaviours that became synonymous with the place such as naked horse riding. One of his odd habits, who’s tradition persists ’till this day, included dying pigeons in exotic colours.
At these parties, the guest list often included celebrity attendees the likes of Siegfried Sassoon, Cyril Connolly, Gertrude Stein, Evelyn Waugh, HG Wells, André Gide, Salvador Dali, Elsa Schiaparelli Igor Stravinsky and John Betjeman whose wife remained adamant on bringing along her Arabian stallion into the drawing room on one of their visits.
The list of celebrities that would come in and out of the house was endless. The 12 bedroom house soon became the ultimate destinations for celebrities and aristocrats alike. The house was so popular during Lord Berner’s time that Nancy Mitford, who was also a personal friend, modelled the fictional character Lord Merlin in her novel The Pursuit of Love on him.
After Lord Berners passed away in 1950, he left the house to his lifelong partner, Robert “Mad Boy” Heber-Percy, who later left it to his granddaughter Sofka Zinovieff, who was only 25 at the time. In 2017, the dispersal of Lord Berner’s possessions finally closed the chapter on one of Britain’s most infamous houses.
This April, a collection of furniture and objects from Faringdon House will be put up for auctions at Christie’s London. These items will be the focal point of the interiors sale that will be held on the 12th of April.