A WRITER famed for his ‘magical’ words can now be forever remembered at a pub he held close to his heart.

The Abingdon Arms in Beckley has installed a blue plaque paying tribute to Brideshead Revisited author Evelyn Waugh, who began frequenting the pub as a young man while studying at Oxford University.

Blue plaques are a permanent stamp of historic importance, celebrating a location’s link to a famous person or event, and the pub’s proudly states: “Evelyn Waugh, Author, wrote, drank and loved here 1924-1931.”

It was unveiled on Saturday evening at the community-run pub, which villagers saved from closure last year.

Speaking at the ceremony, organised by Beckley and Area Community Benefit Society, the author’s grandson Alexander Waugh described his grandfather's writing as ‘absolutely magical’.

He said: “There is nothing to compare with it.

“You turn a page and get a lovely paragraph that’s full of wit, absolute virtuosity and firework ability.

“It’s great to think that some of these fine books were written in this pub.”

Mr Waugh, who had not previously visited the pub, learned about its survival thanks to the community.

He said: “I thought it was the most wonderful story, for the village to stand together to save their local. My grandfather would have approved.

“I think the plaque is extremely attractive and in exactly the right place.

“No one can come here and fail to learn that Evelyn Waugh stayed here.

“A building has a history because of who was in it and what was done in it, influencing those who visit.

“In this sense, the plaque might have said that the Abingdon Arms taught Evelyn Waugh to write, drink and love.”

The ceremony coincided with the same date the author enjoyed a feast in a barn next to the pub in 1924.

He recalled in his diary: “Until about 3am in the morning the whole village sat and ate and drank and danced and sang.”

In tribute to the memory, diners enjoyed a four-course feast after the unveiling, based on dishes mentioned in his diary.

Evelyn Waugh, who was also a journalist and travel writer, stayed at the pub regularly with a male lover, and later honeymooned there with his first wife.

He also used it as a writing retreat, and wrote titles there including Vile Bodies.

Research for the plaque was carried out by Beckley resident Tony Strong, who writes thriller books under several pseudonyms including JP Delaney.

He said: “Older residents had always said their parents remembered a link with Evelyn Waugh.

“It was only when the Abingdon Arms was bought as a community asset in 2017 that we looked into it a bit deeper, and realised just how strong the connection was.”

Evelyn Waugh’s biographer, professor Martin Stannard of Leicester University, said: “There is no doubt of the significance of this pub for Waugh scholars.

“Relationships that played out here were central to his development as a writer.”

In June 2017 the pub held a grand reopening after being bought by 280 community investors, who refused to allow the demise of their local.

It came after Brakspear put the pub up for sale, prompting concerns it could be lost forever. In June it was named Community Pub of the Year by Sawday’s travel group.