Upgrades at Two Waugh Venues

Two of Waugh’s longstanding London-based venues (the Hyde Park Hotel and The Tablet magazine) have announced important upgrades:

–What Waugh knew as the Hyde Park Hotel in Knightsbridge has announced an extensive upgrade that will be fully opened next month. This now has the rather cumbersome name Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park Hotel and has posted this announcement:

If walls could talk this iconic hotel would have many stories to tell. The building was commissioned in the late 1880’s, however construction was initially delayed due to fears that its height would cast a shadow over the Serpentine. It finally opened in 1889 as an exclusive block of apartments for affluent bachelors, before opening as a hotel, with its own private Royal Entrance, in 1902. Since then, many honoured guests have passed through the hotel, and for several years after the Second World War it was the headquarters of the SAS. Glamorous parties and dance classes by the venerable Madame Vacani – who taught HRH Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret to dance – have been held in the ballroom. Sir Winston Churchill lived in the hotel for a while and was known to offer room service waiters two cigars in return for the delivery of an early breakfast. Evelyn Waugh was also a regular guest, and characterised some of his fellow guests after his many stays. Many of these momentous past events can be viewed in more detail in the newly created Historical Journey Exhibition on permanent display in the hotel from Monday 15 April 2019.

Waugh began using the hotel as his regular London stopping place after meeting the men who were its chairman (Basil Bennet) and manager (Brian Franks) in the army (Letters, 163-4). Both they and the hotel are frequently mentioned in Waugh’s correspondence, and he even once went so far as asking them if they could help Auberon secure employment in the hotel trade (Letters, 463-4).

–One of Waugh’s regular choices for UK publication of his articles was The Tablet. During Waugh’s days, the paper was edited by his friend from Oxford, Douglas Woodruff. According to Wikipedia, it was once owned by the Archbishop of Westminster who in 1935 sold it to a group of Catholic laymen. A recent announcement by a website designer explains that the magazine’s entire historic archives will now be available to its subscribers in exact copy format:

Available on Web, iOS and Android devices, this new feat of cultural preservation allows a seamless cross-platform browsing experience for institutions and individuals around the world. The advanced search function enables subscribers to search, share and cite every news piece, article and review from the publication. This intuitive interface rejuvenates old material, offering a window to discover the past and reflect upon the similarities and differences it bears to the current age.[…]

CEO Amanda Davison-Young commented: “There is an incredible amount of the Catholic Church’s history preserved within the digital pages of the archive; the invaluable content of 8,750 issues will be indispensable as a historical resource for individuals and institutions around the world.”

Managing Director of Exact Editions, Daryl Rayner, said: “The state-of-the-art platform allows users to easily navigate the archive, whether it’s the latest content or the very first issue from 16 May 1840. The comprehensive search functionalities also allow subscribers to locate specific articles and events of historical significance with ease.”

The Tablet is a Catholic weekly journal that has been published continually since 1840, making it the second-oldest surviving weekly journal in Britain.


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