Quotations from P G Wodehouse are copyright of, and reprinted by permission of, the Trustees of the Wodehouse Estate © 2017 The P G Wodehouse Society (UK)
So I was curious to see it again when Norman and I accepted an invitation to visit the newly refurbished Empress of Blandings in the spring last year. Our hosts were David Hoare and Anthony Woodhouse, Hall & Woodhouse’s Retail Director and Managing Director, respectively, and they took us around the place with quite a lot of well-
Hall & Woodhouse bought the onetime restaurant in 2005, and in making it over into a pub, David, a lifelong Wodehouse fan (and now a Society member), came up with the idea of naming it after our favourite porcine heroine. The pub’s sign by the road features a picture of the Empress based on one in The Pig by Sanders Spencer. During their refurbishment, Hall & Woodhouse inserted a cheeky joke into it (look closely at the photo). David also saw to it that not only was PGW’s name added to the quote that adorns the building’s outside wall, but dedicated the decor of the interior to Wodehouse and to pigs – all sorts of pigs, but especially Berkshires. As a result, the pub is now even more of a delight to visit.
For starters, the PGW quote on the outside is now accompanied by a drawing of a pig. Another pig greets you on a wall at the entrance, and underneath it is information about PGW’s Empress, “owned by the doting Lord Emsworth”. Inside, many of the walls are covered with photographs, including quite a few of Wodehouse and pigs of all descriptions. In one section, there are two walls devoted to the delightful Everyman edition book covers, with a clever joke inserted among them (I won’t say what it is – you will have to find it for yourself). Those walls that don’t have photos are often lined with bookcases, filled to the brim with books for patrons to read. And, of course, there are plenty of Wodehouse tomes, including a complete collection of Everyman books and several first editions – although those are out of reach.
Everywhere about the pub, inscribed into the beams or painted on walls, are quotes of a porcine or pub-
There is more I could say about the wonderful decor – including a delightful collection of pigs, painstakingly amassed by Claire and Rod Darrell-
And if you do go, bring along a copy (any copy) of Wooster Sauce with you. Presenting it will entitle you to 20% off your meal – a special offer from Hall & Woodhouse, just for Society members!
– Elin Murphy
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