Two pubs associated with Evelyn Waugh’s life in the 1920-30s have recently been in the news: the Abingdon Arms in Beckley, Oxon., and the Fair View Inn in Llanddulas, North Wales. In one case the news is good, in the other not so good.
To take up the bad news first, Russell Kane, comedian and Waugh enthusiast, has retweeted a post from a citizens group in Llanddulas, North Wales seeking support for an effort to prevent the destruction of the Fair View Inn. Reports of the planning approval for the conversion of the property to a block of flats appeared last month in the Daily Post, a North Wales newspaper:
Angry villagers have vowed to fight on after plans for a controversial housing development were given the go-ahead. Residents in Llanddulas had raised objections to Cartefi Conwy’s application to build 24 one and two bedroom apartments and a four-bedroom house on the site of the Fair View Inn in the centre of the village. Objections were raised on the grounds of the loss of the pub as a community facility, the loss of privacy for nearby residents, an insufficient amount of parking at the site, and a lack of outdoor space for residents at the development. Councillors at Conwy’s planning committee voted by four votes to three to grant permission for the development.
The opponents of the development have now organized and are seeking funds to support a lawsuit to overturn the council’s decision. Their petition on the crowdfunding site JustGiving.com describes, inter alia, Waugh’s association with the pub during his tenure as schoolmaster at the nearby Arnold House school:
This site has a historical significance, as the Fair View Inn was the drinking place of the renowned author Evelyn Waugh, when he was a teacher in Llanddulas. He often sought solace here – and it is known as “Mrs Roberts’ pub” in both his diaries and in his novel, ‘Decline and Fall.’ Fans of Mr Waugh often seek out this public house for this very reason.
Photos of the Fair View Inn and a drawing of the proposed apartment block accompany both articles.
Meanwhile, the news from Oxfordshire is better. The citizens of the village of Beckley prevented their local, the Abindgon Arms, from suffering a fate that might have been similar to that threatening the one in Llanddulas–they formed a consortium, took ownership and are now running it as a successful pub and restaurant. See previous posts. The current management has informed us that. as part of their effort to popularize the pub, they will be erecting a blue plaque later this year commemorating Evelyn Waugh’s association with it. He once lived there with Alastair Graham in a caravan parked in an adjacent field and wrote parts of Rossetti, Vile Bodies, and Black Mischief) as well as the conclusion of Remote People while residing there at various times.
UPDATE (27 June 2018): Edits made in last paragraph re books Waugh wrote at Abingdon Arms.