Sofka Zinovieff on her book - The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother & Me
Faringdon House in Oxfordshire was the home of Lord Berners, composer, writer, painter, friend of Stravinsky and Gertrude Stein, a man renowned for his eccentricity – masks, practical jokes, a flock of multi-coloured doves – and his homosexuality. Before the war he made Faringdon an aesthete’s paradise, where exquisite food was served to many of the great minds, beauties and wits of the day.
Since the early thirties his companion there was Robert Heber-Percy, twenty-eight years his junior, wildly physical, unscholarly, a hothead who rode naked through the grounds, loved cocktails and nightclubs, and was known to all as the Mad Boy. If the two men made an unlikely couple, at a time when homosexuality was illegal, the addition to the household in 1942 of a pregnant Jennifer Fry, a high society girl known to be ‘fast’, as Robert’s wife was simply astounding.
After Victoria was born the marriage soon foundered (Jennifer later married Alan Ross). Berners died in 1950, leaving Robert in charge of Faringdon, aided by a ferocious Austrian housekeeper who strove to keep the same culinary standards in a more austere age. This was the world Sofka Zinovieff, Victoria’s daughter, a typical child of the sixties, first encountered at the age of seventeen. Eight years later, to her astonishment, Robert told her he was leaving her Faringdon House.
Her book about Faringdon and its people is marvellously witty and full of insight, bringing to life a vanished world and the almost fantastical people who lived in it.
Selina Hastings on
In The Red Earl Selina Hastings tells the extraordinary story of her father, Jack Hastings, 16th Earl of Huntingdon. In 1925, Hastings infuriated his ultra-conservative parents by turning his back on centuries of tradition to make a scandalous run-away marriage. With his beautiful Italian wife he then left England for the other side of the world, further enraging his family by determining on a career as a painter.
The couple settled first in Australia, then on the island of Moorea in the South Pacific. Here, they led an idyllic existence until a bizarre accident forced them to leave the tropics forever. En route back to England, they stopped for a year in California, where Hastings continued to paint while enjoying a glamorous social life with actors such as Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks.
While in San Francisco, Hastings met the great Mexican artist Diego Rivera, and persuaded him to take him on as an assistant. For the next nearly four years he lived at close quarters with Rivera and with his wife, Frida Kahlo, first in San Francisco, then Detroit, and finally Mexico City. When eventually Hastings returned home it was to be faced with fighting on all fronts: in Spain during the Civil War; in England with his parents; and lastly with his wife, determined to keep him locked into a marriage from which by now he was desperate to escape.
This enthralling story, superbly well written, not only gives a new perspective on two of the 20th-century s greatest artists, Rivera and Kahlo, but also reveals in fascinating detail the private life of an aristocratic family of 100 years ago.
Get Behind The Bar & Learn To Make (& Drink) Four Classic Cocktails with Our In-House Mixologists
Feb 16th 2017 - Dec 31st 2017
Living Animals Invade The Wunderkabinett - Pet a Python, Fondle a Frog, Touch a Tarantula, cuddle a Chameleon & more in a educational display
Mar 3rd 2017 - Dec 31st 2017
Private View May 9th Exhibition May-September 2017
May 9th 2017 - Sep 30th 2017
Join The Last Tuesday Society as we toast to the Empire of Booze, raising our glasses to a history of the British Empire told through drink and author Henry Jeffreys.
Jul 11th 2017 - Jul 11th 2017
Join Master Storyteller Giles Abbott and just twelve guests around the Sarcophagus in Lion's Chamber of Our Museum's Wunderkabinnet for Monthly Storytelling evenings
Mar 12th 2017 - Jul 9th 2017
Join the reclusive Viktor Wynd on a journey into the bowels of the earth and his basement museum.
Jan 11th 2017 - Jun 21st 2017
Join Viktor Wynd, for a night of Tall Tales from The Brother's Grimm, The Arabian Nights or Ireland accompanied by a Glass of The World's Most Unusual Gin (& T)
Jan 24th 2017 - Jun 20th 2017
Paired with Navy Strength Rum
Jun 6th 2017 - Jun 6th 2017
Join us for an evening of wonder and curiosity, art and science, to celebrate the release of a fascinating new book on the art of taxidermy by New York City taxidermists Divya Anantharaman and Katie Innamorato.
Apr 25th 2017 - Apr 25th 2017
Absinthe & l'Androgynie
Apr 18th 2017 - Apr 18th 2017
with Fenella Hitchcock
Apr 11th 2017 - Apr 11th 2017
An Exhibition of 35 works by the Anglo-Mexican Surrealist from The Viktor Wynd Collection generously supported by Hendrick's Gin.
Sep 17th 2016 - Apr 6th 2017
An Interactive Illusion of the Greatest Kind + Victorian-era Cocktails to Pair
Apr 4th 2017 - Apr 4th 2017
For The Hendrick's Commission 2016 Paul Hazelton Fills the Wunderkabinett with Ghostly Figures made of Dust
Sep 17th 2016 - Mar 31st 2017