Piers Court for Sale

Waugh’s country house in Gloucestershire has been listed for sale according to Country Life magazine. The listing agent is Knight, Frank and the asking price is £3 million. The article by Penny Churchill explains that the current owners, who have lived there since 2010, have substantially made over the house’s interior. Several detailed photos illustrate the results of these efforts. The one of a large bathroom is particularly over the top:

Certainly its present owners – who bought Piers Court in 2010 – have done much to enhance a house described by Pevsner as ‘dignified and elegant’, which, behind its classical 18th-century façade, caters for both formal entertaining and informal family living. The standard of fixtures and fittings is really something – as a picture of one of the bathrooms demonstrates. The genial, pleasantly rambling family house has some 8,400sq ft of accommodation, including five reception rooms. There is also a kitchen/breakfast room with a beautiful beamed ceiling, tiled floor and lovely rustic feel. Upstairs there are eight bedrooms and six bathrooms … plus extensive attics and a one-bedroom staff wing. Approached down a long drive lined with high beech hedges, Piers Court nestles in some 23 acres of gardens, parkland and pasture, with distant views over its land to the Welsh Hills and the Forest of Dean. Within the grounds are several outbuildings, including a mews and a Queen Anne coach house.

There are also several other photos accompanying the article including one of the library, hardly recognizable as such in its current incarnation. The article goes on to explain that Waugh wrote Brideshead Revisited as well as Men at Arms and Officers and Gentlemen while living in the house. It is not clear whether this information comes from the estate agents or the magazine, but it is incorrect as to Brideshead. The Waughs let the house to a convent school in October 1939 and returned only in September 1945. Brideshead was written in 1944 and published in May 1945. The books written while in residence at Piers Court would include Robbery Under Law, The Loved OneHelena, and The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold as well as the other two mentioned in the article. The book most closely associated with the house would be Pinfold since it describes a narrator who lived in such a house as well as hallucinations which took place there and involved some of the neighbors.

Another house associated with Evelyn Waugh is Plas Dulas in North Wales. This is located in Llanddulas where Waugh taught at the Arnold House school immortalized in Decline and Fall as Llanabba Castle. This is one of several historic buildings in North Wales described in the Daily Post  (Wales) that are threatened with destruction and for which restoration funds are being sought. This was the country home of Prof. R M Dawkins of Oxford, known to Waugh through the Hypocrites Club. In the unfinished second volume of his autobiography, A Little Hope, Waugh wrote:

…He had for a time provided an aegis for the Hypocrites Club. I had not known him well. Now, when he came home for the long vacation, he appeared as a rescuer sent to me in the desert from that green country. Professor Dawkins was a man of almost boundless tolerance but he did not take to Captain Grimes. To me and another young master he offered open-handed tolerance & companionship (CWEW, vol. 19, p. 487; see also Diaries, p. 213).

UPDATE (11 May 2018): The Times has a story about the sale of Piers Court in today’s edition. This in the “House of the Week” column by Anna Temkin. It adds some interesting details but also gets it wrong about the venue for composition of Brideshead:

Some of Evelyn Waugh’s most famous works, including Brideshead Revisited, were written in Piers Court. The Georgian mansion near Stinchcombe, Gloucestershire, was given to Waugh in 1937 by the family of his second wife, Laura, and the couple lived there until 1956. Their son, Auberon, later recalled in his book, Will This Do?, how he and his siblings knew “the front of the house belonged strictly to my father . . . one detected his presence as soon as we walked into the pretty hall, with its white and black stone floor and glass chandelier”.      [… ] Nikolaus Pevsner’s description of Piers Court as “a dignified and elegant house” still holds true. It has been grade II* listed since 1952. According to its Historic England citation, it dates primarily from the 18th century, but incorporates an earlier house that was on the site in the 16th century. Its present owners, who have lived there for the past ten years, have restored the 18th-century façade and updated its interiors. The grounds extend to 23 acres; the gardens, created by Waugh, feature gravelled walkways and ornamental fountains, along with a croquet lawn and tennis court.

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