£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 14th Lord 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.
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.