Speaking at the ceremony, organised by Beckley and Area Community Benefit Society, the author’s grandson Alexander Waugh described his grandfather’s writing as ‘absolutely magical’. He said: “There is nothing to compare with it.You turn a page and get a lovely paragraph that’s full of wit, absolute virtuosity and firework ability. It’s great to think that some of these fine books were written in this pub.”
Mr Waugh, who had not previously visited the pub, learned about its survival thanks to the community. He said: “I thought it was the most wonderful story, for the village to stand together to save their local. My grandfather would have approved. I think the plaque is extremely attractive and in exactly the right place. No one can come here and fail to learn that Evelyn Waugh stayed here”…
Research for the plaque was carried out by Beckley resident Tony Strong, who writes thriller books under several pseudonyms including JP Delaney. He said: “Older residents had always said their parents remembered a link with Evelyn Waugh. It was only when the Abingdon Arms was bought as a community asset in 2017 that we looked into it a bit deeper, and realised just how strong the connection was.”
Evelyn Waugh’s biographer, professor Martin Stannard of Leicester University, said: “There is no doubt of the significance of this pub for Waugh scholars. Relationships that played out here were central to his development as a writer.”
The story, by Sophie Grubb, is accompanied by a handsome photo gallery. This contains illustrations of the plaque and its setting as well as those gathered for the unveiling ceremony and at the feast that followed.