DiCamillo Companion
England

Biddesden House (Biddesden Park)

  • Earlier Houses: There was an earlier house on the site of the current house.

    Built / Designed For: General John Richmond Webb, a senior officer under Marlborough, with whom he fought at Blindheim (Blenheim) in 1704.

    House & Family History: Biddesden is a sweet, red brick Flemish bond house with stone dressings that has been a seat of the Guinness family since the early 20th century, when it was purchased by Bryan Guinness and his famous wife, Diana Freeman-Mitford Guinness Mosley (the couple divorced in 1932 and Diana married Oswald Mosely, leader of British Union of Fascists, in 1936). In the 1930s Biddesden was magnet for luminaries of the artistic world, including the Sitwells, John Betjeman, Evelyn Waugh, Augustus John, Lord Berners, Harold Acton, and Cecil Beaton, among others. In 1931 Bryan Guinness engaged Dora Carrington to paint a false window on the west facade with a trompe-l'oeil cook, cat, and canary behind glazing bars; in 1935 Roland Pym painted three blind windows on the east facade that show people dressed in Regency garb, possibly intended to be characters from Jane Austen's novels. Pym went on to illustrate Bryan Guinness's 1936 children's book, "The Story of Johnny and Jemima," followed by illustrations for Edith Sitwell’s "English Eccentrics" and Nancy Mitford’s "The Pursuit of Love" and "Love in a Cold Climate." In 2019 Mirabel Guinness, Bryan's daughter from his second marriage to Elisabeth Nelson, published "Biddesden Cookery," a cookbook with illustrations by Roland Pym.

    Comments: Nikolaus Pevsner described Biddesden as "a very remarkable house."

  • Garden & Outbuildings: Biddesden is noted for its Arabian Horse stud farm, Biddesden Stud, which began operation in 1939.

  • Architect: Unknown (designed by an unknown architect)

    Date: 1710-12
    Designed: House for Gen. John Richmond Webb

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    Architect: George Kennedy

    Date: 19th century
    Designed: Gardens

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  • Country Life: XLV, 782, 1919. LXXXIII, 352, 376, 1938.

  • Title: Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage, 1990
    Author: Kidd, Charles; Williamson, David (Editors)
    Year Published: 1990
    Reference: pg. P 888
    Publisher: London: Debrett's Peerage Limited (New York: St. Martin's Press, Inc.)
    ISBN: 0312046405
    Book Type: Hardback

  • House Listed: Grade I

    Park Listed: Grade II

  • Current Seat / Home of: Jonathan Bryan Guinness, 3rd Baron Moyne; Guinness family here since 1931.

    Past Seat / Home of: SEATED AT EARLIER HOUSE: Gen. John Richmond Webb, 1693-1712. SEATED AT CURRENT HOUSE: Gen. John Richmond Webb, 1712-24; Borlase Richmond Webb, 1724-38; John Richmond Webb, 1738-66. Everett family, 19th century. George Gribble, 1910s. Olive Baring, until 1929. E.R. Fothergill, 1929-31. Bryan Walter Guinness, 2nd Baron Moyne, 1931-92.

    Current Ownership Type: Individual / Family Trust

    Primary Current Ownership Use: Private Home

  • House Open to Public: No

    Phone: 01264-790-646

    Fax: 01264-791-232

    Email: finn.guinness@biddesdenstud.co.uk

    Website: http://www.biddesdenstud.co.uk

    Historic Houses Member: No