Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Malcolm Saville and the pubs of Leintwardine

The Secret of the Gorge, published in 1958, is the 11th of Malcolm Saville's Lone Pine series.

It is a topical book, in that it involves the demolition of a large country house (enormous numbers of them were lost during the 1950s), though the plot has been largely borrowed from The Nine Tailors by Saville's friend Dorothy L. Sayers.

The Secret of the Gorge begins with a stranger getting off the bus in the village of Bringewood Chase. This is a fictionalised version of Leintwardine, which is just over the Herefordshire border from Saville's favourite Shropshire.

First, the stranger looks at the menu pinned up outside the white-walled inn called The Evening Star:
Apparently he didn't like what was offered, or perhaps it was the price of the meal which sent him shambling off again until he reached a turning on the right which led him into a narrow street. The houses here were little more than cottages and most of them were shabby. The only shop was a greengrocer's, but at the far end on the left the man in the brown suit saw the sign of another inn. When he was close enough he realized that the sign had not been cleaned for years. At first he thought the artist had painted two dirty yellow pears or oddly shaped oranges on the sign, but after more study he realized that he place was called Two Bells.
I got off the bus at Leintwardine myself last summer. The Evening Star, the white-walled inn by the bridge, is clearly The Lion.

Find a sidestreet off to the right that once had shops - goodness knows how much a cottage costs in Leintwardine these days - and you will come to the Sun Inn.

This was famous as one of the last of the parlour pubs - I blogged about it back in 2010. The new owners have a built an extension at the back where most of the drinking now takes place, which has allowed them to keep the interior of the main pub as it was when they took it over from Flossie Lane.

As I drank there last summer England were building towards another victory over Australia - how long ago that now seems.

Anyway, you can see the The Lion/The Evening Star above and The Sun Inn/Two Bells below.

Now read more about Malcolm Saville and the countryside around Leintwardine.

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