Fun at Faringdon

£144,000 per year sought for Oxfordshire mansion that was the scene of a most curious ménage-a-trois; it is owned by the writer Sofka Zinovieff


“Tall and willowy” writer Sofka Zinovieff inherited Faringdon House in Oxfordshire at the age of 25 from her eccentric, bisexual uncle, Robert ‘The Mad Boy’ Heber-Percy, partner of the owner of the house since 1918, the 14thLord Berners, Gerald Tyrwhitt-Wilson (1883 – 1950). She has recently placed it on the rental market at a price of £12,000 per month ($15,400, €14,200 or  درهم56,700 per month) through Knight Frank.


Artist, composer and writer Lord Berners and “uninhibited” Heber-Percy occupied Faringdon House as a ménage-a-trois with the latter’s wife, Jennifer Fry, for several years and during that time visitors included everyone from the poet Sir John Betjeman to the artist Salvador Dalí, the Communist politician Tom Driberg MP and the writer H. G. Wells. Heber-Percy died in 1987 and it was at this time that the Georgian property passed to its current owner.


Lord Berners famously once entertained Penelope Betjeman’s horse Moti to tea at Faringdon House
Dyed pigeons are still to be found at the property
Sofka Zinovieff


Of her home, which she has variously herself occupied and also let to “cover the impossible costs”, in May 2016, Zinovieff told House & Garden:


It’s funny how it has all worked out. The inheritance hasn’t changed me in the ways that my mother feared it might. I never wanted my identity to be bound up with my house and my life in Greece has saved me from that. No one there has ever even heard of Faringdon.


Extending to 14,510 square foot, Grade I listed Faringdon House was built between 1770 and 1785 for the poet Sir Henry Pye (1744 – 1813). It includes 5 reception rooms, 12 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, stands in grounds that extend to 14.81 acres and comes with an outdoor swimming pool with turreted changing rooms and a lake.


Lord Berners’ gravestone is situated within the grounds and on it appears an epitaph he wrote himself. It reads:


Here lies Lord Berners

One of the learners

His great love of learning

May earn him a burning

But, Praise the Lord!

He seldom was bored


Curiously, another testament to the activities of the property’s eccentric former occupants lives on at Faringdon in the form of pigeons dyed in “jewelled hues”. Pictured in marketing literature for the house, a charity, the Pink Pigeons Trust, is named in their honour also.


View Comments

  • What a dump!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Knock it down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Immediately!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! One for the magic wrecking ball........... Build something better in glass and steel there instead!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No more sexual shennanigans either!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dirty dogs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • I've come back to this article three or four times just to drool over the photographs. Perfect house. And if I owned it, Yolanda could come round any time for coffee and admire it professionally. Best of all, there's no way Rod would come near it, though he's more than welcome to go jump in the lake.

  • I recently read her book, and was sad to see that she has sold the property and all the contents. Now I am most curious, after all the years of making it work, she up and sold everything. I hope that she allowed family members, including her Mother to choose items to keep. If I had known about the auctions, and the estate sale of the contents, I would have purchased some items.

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