Robert Vernon Heber Percy 1911 – 1987

Robert Vernon Heber Percy 1911 – 1987 Robert Vernon Heber Percy 1911 – 1987 was a English eccentric in the grand tradition (photo from http://www.faringdon.org/heber-percy-more-info.html).

Percy was the companion of Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson 14th Baron Berners, and he was related by marriage to Richard Grosvenor Earl Grosvenor 2nd Marquess of Westminster,

Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson 14th Baron Berners was was an advocate of homeopathy.

Percy and Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson 14th Baron Berners were friends of Frederick Ashton, Cecil BeatonConstant Lambert, Oliver Messel, William Walton

From http://www.faringdon.org/heber-percy-more-info.html Robert Heber Percy the squire of Faringdon, (formerly Berkshire) who has died aged 75, was an English eccentric in the grand tradition.

Devoted to books, paintings and the beautification of his estate, he built follies, rode to hounds with his reins held at the buckle on the tips of his fingers, and was the proprietor of an undertakers business.

Known as ‘ the Mad Boy’, he had a brief but hectic career in the Cavalry, acted as an extra in Hollywood, worked in a Lyons Corner House (until spilling soup over a customer) and helped run a night club.

During the 1939-1945 War, he had a Secret Service job in Arabia (“The Arabs like good manners, and I have them”), later serving as a private did, albeit one who drove a large Buick.

Legion were the tales of this larger than life figure, particularly following his adoption as the protege of the equally eccentric author, painter and composer, Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson 14th Baron Berners, familiar to readers of Nancy Mitford as ‘Lord Merlin”. As Miss Mitford’s sister, Diana Mosley, has written, Heber Percy’s “high spirits, elegant appearance and uninhibited behaviour enchanted Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson 14th Baron Berners, who no longer needed a drug to give him contentment”

In Salzburg, Heber Percy hurled a glass tankard from an upper window, narrowly missing a pedestrian below. In Florence he once arrived at the Hotel Excelsior, carried semi conscious on the shoulder of Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson 14th Baron Berners.

Robert Vernon Heber Percy was born in 1911, the youngest son of Algernon Heber Percy, a kinsman of the Dukes of Northumberland, and brought up at Hodnet Hall, a vast neo Elizabethan pile in Shropshire.

His brother, Cyril, wrote of Robert: “He was full of fun, up to every prank, could hoodwink most people, and developed a gift for repartee. To this day he is capable of the most diabolical hoaxes.”

Educated at Stowe, he was commissioned into the King’s Dragoon guards but his antics cut short any prospect of a military career.

In 1950, following the death of Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson 14th Baron Berners, Heber Percy inherited Faringdon, the fine Georgian house celebrated for such idiosyncrasies as fantailed pigeons dyed pink, orange, green, blue.

Heber Percy maintained and enhanced Faringdon’s exotic atmosphere, constructing a swimming pool reached by high steps and overlooked by giant gryphons. The floor of the changing room was inlaid with pennies. Far from an idle aesthete, he would rise at dawn to work in the fields.

Heber Percy married first in 1942(dissolved 1947) Jennifer, daughter of Sir George Fry, Bt, and they had a daughter. In 1985 he married secondly, Lady Dorothy (“Coote”) Lygon. They parted amicably a year later.

From http://www.thepeerage.com/p1121.htm Robert Vernon Heber Percy was born on 5 November 1911. He was the son of Algernon Hugh Heber Percy and Gladys May Hulton Harrop.

He married, firstly, Ann Jennifer Evelyn Elizabeth Fry, daughter of Sir Geoffrey Storrs Fry, 1st Bt. and Hon. Alethea Margaret Gwendolin Valentine Gardner, on 11 July 1942. He and Ann Jennifer Evelyn Elizabeth Fry were divorced in 1947.

He married, secondly, Lady Dorothy Lygon, daughter of William Lygon 7th Earl Beauchamp and Lady Lettice Mary Elizabeth Grosvenor, in 1985.

He died in 1987.

Robert Vernon Heber Percy also went by the nick-name of ‘Mad Boy’.

Child of Robert Vernon Heber Percy and Ann Jennifer Evelyn Elizabeth Fry, Victoria Gala Heber Percy+ b. 28 Feb 1943

From http://everything2.com/title/Gerald+Hugh+Tyrwhitt-Wilson%252C+14th+Baron+Berners Of course the reason why Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson 14th Baron Berners had so many homosexual friends was that he himself was very much homosexual and set up home at Faringdon House with Robert Vernon Heber Percy, otherwise known as the Mad Boy, who was some twenty nine years his junior.

Although quite how he managed to land such a catch as the dashing ‘Mad Boy’ is a mystery to many, since Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson 14th Baron Berners was to be frank quite ugly.

His general appearance wasn’t helped by the fact that he was also bald and, as he admitted himself, he “looked like a diabolical egg” when angry. In fact as his friend Beverley Nichols was later to recall, Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson 14th Baron Berners was “remarkably ugly — short, swarthy, bald, dumpy and simian.

There is a legend that nobody who has ever seen Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson 14th Baron Berners in his bath is ever quite the same again.”

Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson 14th Baron Berners‘s profound lack of physical attractiveness may explain why he was shy and apparently somewhat intimidating. By contrast his partner Robert was an extravagant extrovert and appears to have encouraged Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson 14th Baron Berners in the exercise of the bizarre elements of his imagination….

Naturally Gerald Hugh Tyrwhitt Wilson 14th Baron Berners never married and died without heirs. His title passed to a female cousin, whilst his money went to his partner Robert Vernon Heber Percy.

Of interest:

James John Garth Wilkinson had the names and address of the Miss/s Tyrwhitt (Drake and Miss Mary) in his address book at Dulas Court, *Pontrilles, Herefordshire, (Swedenborg Archive Address Book of James John Garth Wilkinson dated 1895),

Lieutenant Colonel Bellers of Baston Manor, Abbey Dore, *Pontrilas, Herfordshire is also noted in James John Garth Wilkinson‘s address book in 1895 (Swedenborg Archive Address Book of James John Garth Wilkinson dated 1895), is this Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Vernon Bellers (1856-1927http://www.clement-jones.com/ps05/ps05_135.htm)?

I wonder if these Vernon’s were related? http://sueyounghistories.com/archives/2009/12/14/william-warren-vernon-1834-1919/

James John Garth Wilkinson also has another Vernon in his address book – W H Vernon at 34 Gaisford Street, Kentish Town, and also at 45 South Hill Park, Hampstead (Victorians did tend to move rather frequently) (Swedenborg Archive Address Book of James John Garth Wilkinson dated 1895)

One thought on “Robert Vernon Heber Percy 1911 – 1987”

  1. Do you really think only physically beautiful people can be attractive to others?
    Lord Berners was a creative genius and a heroically loyal friend, as well as a rich landowner and a peer.
    That would make him attractive to many people, especially before the modern age of trivial celebrity.

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