If only objects could speak, the contents from Faringdon House, Oxfordshire would tell a story filled with intrigue, eccentricity and flamboyance. This season, the focal point of Christie’s London Interiors Sale, 12 April 2018 will be contents from the home of Lord Berners. When the composer, painter, diplomat and writer fell in love with Robert “Mad Boy” Heber-Percy, the pair turned their Oxfordshire home into an extraordinary aesthetes’ paradise.
A genius entertainer, Nancy Mitford immortalised Berners in her novel The Pursuit of Love as the whimsical character Lord Merlin and claims that ‘one of the greatest of his (Lord Berners) achievements was the atmosphere he created around himself at Faringdon, a house where the second best was never tolerated, either in comfort, conversation or in manners.’ This is also true in the company he kept. The house’s visitors’ books are filled with the names of the famous, the beautiful and the badly-behaved. As well as the Mitfords who were close friends, house visitors included Igor Stravinsky, Salvador Dali, Gertrude Stein, Marchesa Casati, Cecil Beaton, Frederick Ashton, Constant Lambert and Margot Fonteyn.