Waugh in the North

Three country houses in the north of England, all with Waugh connections, are about to hold events that may be of interest:

–This weekend at Stonyhurst College, a Jesuit boarding school in Lancashire, there will be a Festival of Literature and Film. While none of the speakers promises anything relating to Waugh, there is the possibility of a display of materials from the school’s library that may be of interest. Waugh made frequent visits there in the 1930s when he had no fixed abode. He stayed with his Oxford friend Christopher Hollis and his wife. Hollis was a schoolmaster there at the time. At the end of Black Mischief, Waugh appends the following venue information: “Stonyhurst-Chagford-Madresfield. Sept. 1931-May 1932.” Waugh sent at least one of his sons there (James), and it was also the school of the Earl of Brideshead (“Bridey”) in the novel.

–On Wednesday 21 August, Lytham Hall, also in Lancashire, will host an outdoor screening of the 2008 film adaptation of Brideshead Revisited. The announcement explains the house’s Waugh connection:

Lytham Hall is proud to present a showing of the 2008 version of the classic Evelyn Waugh novel – “Brideshead Revisited”. Legend has it that Harry Clifton and Evelyn Waugh were University friends, with Waugh visiting Lytham Hall on a few occasions. He described the Clifton’s as “quite mad” and when his novel Brideshead Revisited was published, it ruffled a few feathers.

As noted in a previous post, the connection between Waugh and Lytham Hall is rather tenuous:

Harry Clifton was an erstwhile film producer in the 1930s who ran through his entire inheritance including Lytham Hall. He was four years younger than Waugh and, if they knew each other at Oxford, no one among their contemporaries or Waugh’s biographers seems to have noticed. The Wikipedia entry for Harry Clifton a/k/a Henry Talbot de Vere Clifton (1907-1979) mentions the connection with Waugh and Sebastian Flyte, citing only an internet site maintained by the Lytham Town Trust which promotes visits to Lytham Hall. That site offers no support for their statement. Waugh mentions having visited Lytham Hall once in 1935 and was hosted by Violet Clifton, who was Harry’s mother. There were several other of her children present, and Waugh’s letter to Katharine Asquith mentions them each specifically by name, but not Harry. Waugh was impressed by the house and notes: “Five hideous Catholic churches on estate.” A footnote by Mark Amory asserts: “An elder brother, Harry, knew Waugh at Oxford.” Again, no evidence is cited (Letters, p. 95). The family were apparently Roman Catholic, as witnessed by the numerous chapels and the fact that Harry’s parents were married in the Brompton Oratory, so that may lend some credibility to the Brideshead connection.

–Not to be left out, Castle Howard, the setting for both the TV and film adaptations of Brideshead Revisited, will host a BBC production team from today through Sunday, 15-18 August. According to the BBC News announcement:

Thousands of people are expected to descend on a North Yorkshire stately home today as it plays host to Countryfile Live. About 15,000 are predicted to visit Castle Howard over the next four days to see presenters of the BBC show, including John Craven, Ellie Harrison and Matt Baker. The arena at Castle Howard, widely recognised from the TV adaption of the Evelyn Waugh novel Brideshead Revisited, has taken three weeks to build. Organisers are advising people to arrive early to avoid traffic delays They say: “The show opens from 08:30. We have a dedicated traffic management plan for when you leave the A64, so please follow the AA signs.”

Whether there will be any specific mention of the Brideshead productions isn’t stated. But with regular weekly episodes to fill, it seems inevitable the subject will come up. Tbe BBC did not participate in the 1981 TV production but did help produce the 2008 Miramax film. If there is a schedule for the viewing of any TV episodes to be based on this 4-day visit, I was unable to find it.


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