The house was last sold for £2.9m in 2019 to a company controlled by a former BBC executive who was taken to court earlier this year after failing to pay most of the £1.24m cost of staying in the £4,725-a-night penthouse at the Mandarin Oriental hotel for eight months.
Jason Blain, who previously worked as an executive for BBC Worldwide and Sony Entertainment, was sued by the Knightsbridge hotel in January over an unpaid bill of £740,000, which included £30,110 for valet parking and £25,497 for room service.
Blain bought Piers Court via a company called Winston’s House, with a loan of £2.1m from the historic London bank Hoare’s & Co. Blain could not be reached for comment.
The auction, which takes places on 15 December, was triggered by the bank after it appointed receivers to recover the debt. Accounts filed at Companies House show receivers Victoria Liddell and Tammy Wilkins of Allsops were appointed on 15 June. The receivers and Hoare’s & Co declined to comment.
Prospective buyers are warned by the auctioneers that: “The property is occupied under a Common Law Tenancy at a rent of £250 per annum. A notice to quit was served on the occupant on 19 August 2022 and a copy of such notice was affixed to the property gate on 22 August 2022. Prospective purchasers should take their own legal advice regarding this and will be deemed to bid accordingly.” [Links from Guardian]
The story also offers a brief history of Waugh’s occupation of the house:
A Grade II*-listed Cotswold mansion where Evelyn Waugh wrote Brideshead Revisited is up for auction with a guide price of £2.5m – about £400,000 less than it sold for just four years ago. […]
Piers Court at Stinchcombe near Dursley, about halfway between Bristol and Cheltenham, was bought by Waugh for £3,600 in 1937 with money he had been given by the parents of his second wife, Laura Herbert.
The couple lived in Piers Court for 19 years (apart from during the second world war when he let the mansion to a covent school), and Waugh wrote many of his best novels in its library including Officers and Gentlemen, Men at Arms, and Brideshead Revisited. [sic]
This writing history is not quite correct. As the story notes, the house was let to a convent school during the war which was when Brideshead Revisited was written and revised for publication in 1944. The novels written while resident in the house would include Helena and The Loved One and probably at least the beginning of The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold as well as Men at Arms and Officers and Gentlemen. But Brideshead was written at the Easton Court Hotel in Chagford, Devon, and revised in Yugoslavia. Waugh was at the time with the Army and his wife and children were living with her family in Pixton Park, Dulverton. It is also incorrect to describe the house as having been a wedding present from the parents of Waugh’s wife Laura Herbert. The gift was made by Laura’s grandmother, Lady de Vesci. (Eade, 205)
–The Sunday Times has compiled a list of proposed offerings at A-List parties based on recommendations from a panel of expert party givers. Here’s one that involves a party offering described by Waugh:
Writer Justine Picardie: Get a grog tray
“The grog tray is at the heart of all our entertaining at home in the Norfolk countryside, even when it’s just me and my husband entertaining ourselves on a Friday evening. You can find mentions of grog trays in the novels of Evelyn Waugh — Sebastian Flyte drinks rather too many cocktails from the one in the Brideshead library — and my husband’s version is almost identical to those that would have been familiar to his father and grandfather before him. The essentials are rows of glasses, an ice bucket, an assortment of mixers, a decanter of whisky and a wide array of spirits, as well as champagne or sparkling wine to make a French 75, which is essentially gin and lemon juice on ice, topped up with fizz. Teetotal guests are catered for, with virgin bloody marys, elderflower cordial and so forth. And a lemon, an orange and a lime are also key ingredients, with a little knife to provide zest.”
–The American academic publishers McFarland have announced the issuance of a book entitled The Brideshead Companion: A Guide to Evelyn Waugh’s Famous Novel. This is by Ronald R Gray who is described as having “taught English at universities in the United States, Japan, South Korea and China. He lives in Gongju, South Korea.” The book is for sale by the publisher in advance of its release. The publisher’s notice contains this description of its history:
It is located in Jefferson, North Carolina, a small Appalachian town in the northwestern corner of the state (close to both Tennessee and Virginia). From the beginning, McFarland has been a library-oriented publisher, producing comprehensive reference works and scholarly monographs on a variety of subjects. The books are manufactured to the highest specifications. They have the best design in the business, the best typography (with minutely reworked fonts for grace and easy reading), readability-oriented editing, and the finest available printing (acid-free, strong opacity paper with extra-sturdy cloth, board and paper bindings).
–Finally, the Jewish independent newspaper Forward has posted an article marking the occasion of the centenary of the birth of artist Lucien Freud. Some of it is devoted to the antisemitism faced by Freud during his career:
…In the early 1950s, when Freud married his second wife, Lady Caroline Blackwood, daughter of the noblewoman Maureen Guinness, he attracted the ire of some U.K. snobs. The author Evelyn Waugh wrote to a friend: “Poor Maureen’s daughter made a runaway match with a terrible Yid.” Randolph Churchill, Winston’s son, once exclaimed upon seeing Freud arrive at his mother-in-law’s home: “What the bloody hell is Maureen doing, turning her house into a bloody synagogue?” Indeed, Freud’s mother-in-law was scarcely more tolerant, introducing him to friends as “Lucian Fraud,” and the marriage did not last.
UPDATE (12 December 2022): The information about the source of the wedding gift to purchase Piers Court was added.