...the glamorous world that was created by the two men in the fine old house - one of the prettiest in England...
Swindon 12 miles. Abingdon 15 miles. Cirencester 20 miles. Oxford 21 miles. London 77 miles. Swindon Train Station (trains to Paddington from 1 hour). Didcot Parkway 20 miles (trains to Paddington from 40 minutes). (All distances and times approximate).
The entrance front on the southern side of the house has an impressive arched and pedimented central section, and is flanked by symmetrical curved walls. A raised terrace runs along the northern side, leading out from the principal reception rooms and giving wonderful views across the park, down to the lake and out into the wider landscape.
In recent times some of the secondary space has been divided to form separate accommodation; there are two flats in the
Stable Yard, a separate but inter connecting apartment is at one end of the house and further flats on the lower ground floor. Away from the main house, the two lodge cottages each have three bedrooms, as does the Gardener's Lodge.
The house is approached from a large gravelled sweep, and entered through a porch with Tuscan columns, embellished with ball finials and flanked by arched recesses containing statues. The Reception Hall, with its chequered stone floor, is notable for its unusual double staircase. Reversing the conventional arrangement, twin staircases rise to a half landing and then merge to fly' over the hall and up to the first floor. The hall is flooded with light and gives access to all the principal reception rooms.
At the further end of the hall, aligned with the front door and allowing views right through the house, is the entrance to the Drawing Room. This room has three tall windows, with commanding and distant views to the north, the central pair being French windows leading out onto the raised terrace. The ceiling is decorated with ornate plaster mouldings, and at one end of the room there is an open fireplace with a fine pillared marble surround. At the opposite end, a wide opening, with sliding pocket doors, leads through to the Music Room. This has a further tall window and a pair of French windows leading onto the terrace, and a fireplace with a similar marble surround. A door leads from the music room to the hall, so these two rooms can be arranged to form an impressive single space over 50' long, or as two separate rooms.
Leading off the hall to the right of the front door is the Morning Room, with two windows facing south across the lawns to the church beyond. This room has an elegant grey marble fireplace and built-in cupboards each side. One of these cupboards was
formerly a doorway leading through to the part of the house that now comprises the housekeeper's apartment.
Diagonally across the hall from the Morning Room is the Dining Room, also with two windows facing south over the lawn, and some elegant plaster mouldings on the chimney breast above the fireplace. The pair of fine overdoors in this room incorporate splendid carvings of ox skulls.
The second door from the dining room leads out to a back landing. To the right is a useful Utility Room with a Belfast sink set into a long teak worktop that extends along one side of the room. Off the utility room there is a small Cloakroom with WC and basin. Also off the landing, steps lead down to a Kitchen/Breakfast Room with a large five-ring gas range cooker and double oven and a walk in safe leading off. The kitchen has a fireplace, and a French window opens onto a balcony. The staircase descends from the landing to the lower ground floor.
At the opposite end of the ground floor, a doorway leads through to what is now the Housekeeper's Apartment (Flat 3), with a sitting room with fireplace and marble surround, kitchen, bedroom and en-suite bath/shower room. This has an independent electrical supply, with electric hot water heating, while the central heating is run from the main house.
The main staircase rises to the first floor landing, with a south facing window overlooking the church, decorative arches and an ornate plasterwork frieze. To the right is the Master Bedroom, with two windows overlooking the park and a fireplace with carved marble surround. The en-suite bathroom has mahogany panelling and a built-in chest of drawers, and stained glass panels in the window.
Opposite this is Bedroom 2, known as the Crystal room, with two windows overlooking the church and a fireplace. The en-suite bathroom is entirely painted with a remarkable Rousseauesque mural by the artist Roy Hobdell.
Across the landing is Bedroom 3, known as Victoria's room, with two south facing windows overlooking the church, and a fireplace with marble surround; adjoining it is a bathroom with a large walk-in shower.
Opposite this on the north side of the house is Bedroom 4, known as the Red room, with a fireplace, two windows looking out over the park and a jib door leading to its en-suite bathroom.
The final bedroom on the first floor is Bedroom 5, known as the Middle bedroom, which overlooks the park and the ornamental pool to the north of the house and has a wash basin concealed in a cupboard.
From the first floor landing the secondary staircase rises to the second floor. On the left is Bedroom 6 with a south facing window overlooking the church, and exposed painted beams. Beside this is Bedroom 7, currently used as a study, with an attractive arched window in the central section of the north front, overlooking the church. Finally on this side of the house is Bedroom 8, with a fireplace and exposed painted beams.
Bedroom 9 is at the far end of the second floor passage, facing west with a built-in wash basin. Beside this is Bedroom 10 which in recent times has been used as a Kitchen/Breakfast Room, with a fireplace and exposed painted beams. Adjoining this is Bathroom 5, and on the other side of the bathroom is Bedroom 11, again with exposed painted beams and a window looking out across the park. Finally on this floor is Bedroom 12, with exposed painted beams and a fireplace, and Bathroom 6 beside it. A hatch in the ceiling leads to boarded attics.
Lower Ground Floor
The secondary staircases continue down to the lower ground floor, the majority of which has been converted to form two flats, but which could be adapted to a number of uses. This floor formerly comprised an extensive range of domestic offices and service areas including a Game Larder, Lamp Room, Brushing Room, Wine cellar etc. At the western end the passage continues to the original Dairy and Scullery, which have been converted to form a Garage which space for three cars. Also of note on this floor is the Business Room, which is lined with wood panelling and bookshelves, and leads out onto a loggia that runs along the North side of the house below the raised terrace, and the former Chapel. There is CCTV in various parts of the garden and grounds with a central control room on this floor.
Lodges and Accommodation
The Carriage Drive enters the Park between a pair of brick built Gate Lodges, which were extended in the mid-20th Century to provide further accommodation. Each has three bedrooms, a bathroom, sitting room and kitchen/living room. No.1 West Lodge has a wood burner in the sitting room and solid fuel Rayburn, while No.2 West Lodge has oil fired heating. Both properties
have independent mains water supplies, and share a septic tank.
The Gardener's Lodge is situated on the Main Drive that leads into the town of Faringdon. It has a Kitchen/Breakfast room with solid fuel Rayburn, a sitting room with fireplace and French windows out to the garden, three bedrooms, a bathroom and conservatory/utility room. There is further space on the first floor of the Lodge, but it is currently disused and the staircase has been removed. Outside it has a single garage. The property has electric heating and hot water.
Facing onto the Stable Courtyard, just east of the main house, is the Stable House. Parts of this have been converted to provide a further two flats, one is situated on the ground floor and has two rooms, a kitchen and bathroom. The other is entered on the ground floor with stairs up to a bathroom, and the main accommodation on the first floor. This comprises a sitting room with arched window, study, bedroom and fitted kitchen. Both flats have independent mains gas, water and electricity. The remainder of the Stable House is still laid out as stables and loose boxes, with a further run of six loose boxes facing it across the courtyard. At right angles to these is the former Coach House, which currently provides further storage
space, and there is a substantial brick-built Workshop just outside the stone gate piers of the East Court.
Gardens and Grounds
The gardens of Faringdon House are laid out as befits a house of its stature. In front of the South Front there is an expansive gravel area, connecting to all three drives. Beyond this to the south, the lawn rises gently in a series of grassed terraces, flanked on each side by tall hedges of mature box. To the east of this lawn is the Back Avenue, planted mainly with London plane trees. At the end of this at right angles is the Church Path which runs alongside the high wall of the churchyard and is planted with ornamental trees including laburnum and crab apple. The Church Path affords wonderful views back to the South Front of the house, looking across a box parterre and framed by mature Scots Pines on each side.
In the south western corner of the grounds, beyond the Front Drive which is lined on one side by a large cloud-pruned box hedge and pleached limes, is the large Walled Garden, ideally situated on a south-westerly slope and backed by a high brick wall. Much of this is now laid to grass, but the northern section is still in use. A mixed border runs along in front of the wall, benefitting from its shelter and southerly orientation. This is planted with a range of shrubs and herbaceous plants, while on the wall behind there are espalier fruit trees and climbing plants including wisteria.
Continuing around the wall there is the former site of a vine house, with a very sheltered southerly aspect. A section of this now has apricot trees trained against it, while against the western end of the wall there is a good sized greenhouse, with a further large free-standing greenhouse on a brick base wall in front, as well as timber-edged raised beds.
Behind the walled garden there are useful and extensive garden stores, workshops, compost areas etc, and an Orchard, planted mainly with apples, pears and cherries.
Adjacent to the orchard is the heated Swimming Pool, which is raised above ground level, allowing space for the plant room and
changing room below. The wall surrounding the pool is guarded by a magnificent pair of stone wyverns, and in one corner is the Coin House, a small building that derives its name from the floor which is set with old pennies.
Just north of the swimming pool is a magnificent Orangery, built in classical style with a gravelled area in front providing an
extensive sitting area and surrounding a circular fish pond.
Returning to the house, the North Front faces out onto a wide expanse of lawn, in the centre of which is a circular ornamental pond with a fountain in the form of the Greek god Dionysus.
Staircases sweep up to each end of the terrace that runs along the house, and a ha-ha divides it from the parkland beyond.
The Park is beautifully laid out with mature trees. On the approach to the house the Carriage Drive sweeps downhill from the lodges through an avenue of limes, crossing a small valley on a bridge with ornamental iron railings, flanked by a small pond to one side and the expanse of the Lake on the other, before rising up on the other side, giving fine views of the house before sweeping round to the South Front. The pond and lake are spring-fed, and at the further end of the lake there is a charming
summer house, forming a picturesque focal point, with a small balcony to the rear overlooking the cascade that forms the outflow of the lake.
The house is surrounded on all sides by its own gardens and park, just outside, yet secluded from, the thriving and historic market town of Faringdon and on the doorstep of the Cotswolds.
The views from its two main fronts offer a delightful contrast; from the entrance front in a southerly direction it is relatively intimate, looking across its own lawns to Faringdon church. As a complete contrast, to the north and west the ground drops away, providing a spectacular outlook across its own parkland and the valley of the upper Thames with, in the distance, the edge of the Cotswold hills.
One of three approaches to the house is down the Carriage Drive, entering the park between a pair of gate lodges situated a short distance outside the town of Faringdon on the Lechlade road (A417), with further approaches from the East Drive and the Main Drive which gives direct access to the town of Faringdon.
Nearby independent schools include Ferndale Preparatory School in Faringdon, St Hugh's at Carswell, Cothill and Pinewood. It is less than 25 miles to the City of Oxford, where, as well as its University, there is a range of well-known schools, including The Dragon, Summerfields and St Edwards, Headington, Oxford High School and Magdalen College School. Other schools that are within reasonable proximity include Radley, Marlborough, Cheltenham and Downe House. The A420 connects the M4 to
the South at Swindon (junction 15) and the M40 to the north near Oxford (junction 9). There are main line railway stations at Swindon, Didcot and Oxford.
The National Trust's Buscot Park is nearby, as is Badbury Hill and the famous Uffington White Horse. There is racing at Cheltenham and Newbury, and hunting with the Vale of the White Horse and Old Berkshire hunts.
Faringdon House was completed in about 1785, replacing an Elizabethan house that had been badly damaged by fire and of which few traces remain. Described by architectural historian Mark Girouard as being as desirable a house as one could wish for', Faringdon House offers accommodation on an impressive yet not overbearing scale, rich in architectural detail and steeped in social and artistic history of the 20th Century.
Commissioned by Sir Henry James Pye, later appointed Poet Laureate, it has been suggested that the architect was John
Wood the Younger of Bath, although that is unproven. The house is classically Georgian in style, largely rendered and with ashlar stone detailing, and is listed Grade 1. Among the owners during the 19th Century were the Cunard family, founders of the eponymous shipping line, and in 1930 the house was occupied by Gerald Tyrwhitt-Wilson, 14th Lord Berners. Berners was a man of considerable talents, as a painter, author and above all as a composer, but also celebrated as one of England's great eccentrics. During his years at Faringdon the house was well known for its comfort and the quality of cuisine, and it attracted an eclectic range of famous visitors including Igor Stravinsky, H G Wells, Salvador Dali, Gertrude Stein, Noel Coward, David Niven, Elsa Schiaparelli and Margot Fonteyn.
Nancy Mitford immortalised the house as Merlinford' in her books The Pursuit of Love' and Love in a Cold Climate', and its owner as Lord Merlin' who, like Lord Berners himself, was notable for dyeing his ornamental doves in vibrant colours - a tradition that continues at Faringdon to this day. Berners was also responsible for the building of Faringdon Folly Tower, a well-known local landmark and perhaps the last major folly to have been built in Britain, which Lord Berners' heir, Robert Heber-Percy, gave to the town of Faringdon in 1985.
From London take the M4 heading west and exit at Junction 14, signposted to Hungerford/Wantage (A338), continue into Wantage and follow the sign posts to Faringdon on the A417. After about 9 miles turn right onto the A420, taking the first left into London Street. Continue through the middle of Faringdon, taking the signposts to Lechlade and the entrance gates will be found on the right hand side on the outskirts of Faringdon.
*Currency rates are updated daily at approximately 01:00 GMT | Property Reference Number: GBLHCHLAC150171
33 Margaret Street
+44 (0) 20 7016 3780
33 Margaret Street
+44 (0) 20 7016 3780