News from Stinchcombe

Following his appearance earlier this month at the Chipping Campden Literature Festival, Duncan McLaren paid a visit to nearby Piers Court. This his first visit since the two he made in the mid 2000s when he was researching his book Evelyn! Rhapsody for an obsessive love. Ownership has recently changed and he was lucky enough to arrive unannounced and find the new owner at home:

After five minutes a woman, smartly dressed in black, approaches, smiling a welcome. She is Helen Lawton, the new owner of Piers Court. In recent weeks she has been very excited to learn about the Evelyn Waugh associations of her new home. By coincidence, she knows Septimus Waugh, Evelyn’s son, and there is a plan to bring Septimus’s old nanny down from Northumberland to the house for a day. This is an ambitious plan, as the former nanny is in her nineties, but Helen also knows Alexander Waugh, Evelyn’s grandson, and has other plans to bring Evelyn Waugh activities to the house.

For now she is entertaining (drinking ‘bubbles’ before a late lunch) so can’t give us a tour round the house. However, she can give us a quick look round the garden in order that I can get the shots I want. Which is very good of her.

That is all very encouraging news. Duncan was also accompanied by a friend who is an accomplished photographer, and his new posting is illustrated with exteriors of the house and gardens showing them still in pretty good nick.

A travel blogger recently posted a guide to visiting  Stinchcombe, the village in which Piers Court is situated. This is by Sophie Nadeau on her website SoloSophie and opens with this:

The tiny community of under 500 residents is home to just one church, a drinking fountain, and the buttery stone houses that are so synonymous with this region of the English countryside. Once upon a time, the village would have also have had a village shop and post office, though these closed in 1956.

Before planning a visit, just be clear that this is the kind of pretty Cotswold village you simply stop through en route to somewhere else, as there is little by way of attractions to see once there! Luckily, gems such as Berkeley Castle and the Jensen Museum are less than a ten-minute drive away.

It continues with a brief description of Piers Court and Waugh’s residence there as well as the village Church of St Cyr and the view from Stinchcombe Hill (its best known tourist attraction).  There are several photos of the church and cottages but, alas, none of the hilltop view. She earns high marks for correctly identifying the novels that Waugh wrote while living at Piers Court. She avoids the common error of including Brideshead Revisited as well as Put Out More Flags but could have listed Helena and  The Loved One. Nor does she mention that Waugh and his friends nick-named the village “Stinkers”.

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