Waugh was not al­ways a fan of his county seat

Gloucestershire Echo - - NOSTALGA -

» To share your pic­tures and mem­o­ries of lo­cal peo­ple, places and events, please email them to nos­te­[email protected] gmail.com

EVE­LYN Waugh is widely re­garded as one of the most sig­nif­i­cant writ­ers in English of the 20th cen­tury.

Per­haps his best-known novel, Brideshead Re­vis­ited, was turned into a ma­jor TV drama some years ago and like al­most all of his books has never been out of print.

Eve­lyn Waugh wrote Brideshead Re­vis­ited, along with other best-selling works such as his Sword of Hon­our tril­ogy, while a res­i­dent of Glouces­ter­shire where he lived in a house called Piers Court at St­inch­combe, near Durs­ley.

He bought the coun­try man­sion and sur­round­ing es­tate in 1937 for £3,600, a pur­chase that was funded by his par­ents-in-law to be, as the home he would es­tab­lish with their daugh­ter Laura Her­bert.

She was his sec­ond wife, his first mar­riage hav­ing been an­nulled.

When con­flict with Ger­many broke out the Waughs let Piers Court to a Ro­man Catholic con­vent school run by nuns.

Waugh served with the Bri­tish Army in the Balkans, while Laura re­turned to her fam­ily’s home in Som­er­set and it was this week in 1945 that the Waughs re­turned to Piers Court.

Rarely given to out­bursts of un­sul­lied joy, Eve­lyn Waugh’s diary en­try for Septem­ber 10, 1945, de­scribed his home­com­ing to Glouces­ter­shire by train from Lon­don Padding­ton to Berkeley Road halt.

“It be­gan to rain as I walked up to Piers Court on a grey, fly-in­fested evening with a hang­over. At first sight the gar­den was rank, the paths lost, the trees stunted or over­grown ir­reg­u­larly. In­side ev­ery­thing was damp.”

His mood lifted, how­ever, when he waved good­bye to the last of the nuns and found four dozen bot­tles of port, plus six dozen of claret in the cel­lar.

Sto­ries from friends of the Waughs, along with en­tries from his diaries, present con­tra­dic­tory re­ports of how the great nov­el­ist viewed Piers Court and its en­vi­rons.

He al­ways re­ferred to St­inch­come as Stink ‘em. He con­stantly be­moaned the fact that good wine and cigars were un­avail­able for miles around.

And num­ber one on his list of irks was the lack of hot wa­ter, or in­deed any wa­ter at all.

Oc­to­ber 7, 1945: “We are now with­out hot wa­ter as the re­sult of the boiler spring­ing a leak. On Wed­nes­day last Lady Bowlby as­sem­bled a meet­ing to protest about the wa­ter sup­ply. All the vil­lage was there. A Scot­tish den­tist kept say­ing ‘a file has been opened at the Min­istry of Health’ as though this were ac­cess to bound­less pros­per­ity.”

By March 18, 1946, with no im­prove­ment on the wa­ter front, Waugh wrote: “I have started le­gal ac­tion against Durs­ley Ru­ral Dis­trict Coun­cil for fail­ure to sup­ply wa­ter. Called a con­fer­ence to ar­range pub­lic­ity cam­paign about St­inch­combe wa­ter sup­ply.”

This ac­tiv­ity ap­pears to have im­proved the sit­u­a­tion, but only on a tem­po­rary ba­sis, as the diary en­try for Oc­to­ber 2, 1947 tells us: “I re­turned home to find the house clean and silent and wa­ter­less.”

Waugh trav­elled a great deal by train, which he caught var­i­ously from Stroud, Berkeley, Kem­ble or Gloucester, not­ing with plea­sure that on Fe­bru­ary 21, 1946 “there was a restau­rant car on the train, the first I have seen since the war.”

Eve­lyn’s son Bron, the late jour­nal­ist Auberon Waugh, got into a spot of bother at Gloucester sta­tion.

July 25, 1955: “Laura and I took the chil­dren to the cin­ema in Durs­ley. We were greeted by the man­ager say­ing the Stroud po­lice wished to speak to us. They said that a youth had been ar­rested and from their de­scrip­tion is it was plain that the pris­oner was Bron.

“We drove to Stroud and found him white and dirty eat­ing a bun. He had a third of a bot­tle of gin, of the brand I drink, in his pos­ses­sion. He said he had missed his bus to Gloucester, spent all his money at the White Hart buy­ing a bot­tle of gin and drank most of it at Gloucester sta­tion.”

In the mid 1950s the Waughs put Piers Court up for sale.

When in­struct­ing an es­tate agent to put his home on the mar­ket Eve­lyn wrote “If you hap­pen to meet a lu­natic who wants to live in this ghastly area, please tell him.”

Piers Court was sold in 1956 for £9,500 and the Waughs moved to Som­er­set where Eve­lyn died in 1966 at the age of 62.

The Waughs at Piers Court

Piers Court

Eve­lyn Waugh at Piers Court

Laura and Eve­lyn Waugh

Brideshead Re­vis­ited

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.