Synopsis of Evelyn Waugh Night at the Abingdon Arms

On June 3rd the pub hosted three emerging talents as the grand finale of the David Bradshaw Creative Writing Residency, a collaboration between the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh, Worcester College and the Bodleian Library. Dr Barbara Cooke, current co-executive editor of the Complete Works, introduced the project and read from her new book, a fascinating study of Waugh seen through the lens of locations in Oxford that were important to him, from the railway station, where he helped to organise drunken dinners on steam trains, to his tailors, where he ran up large debts.

            Rob Francis then read a series of energetic, visceral poems inspired by Barbara’s research, some composed as he walked around the city in Waugh’s footsteps. A highly polished and engaging performer, even the unfamiliar black country idioms with which he peppered his verses held the audience spellbound.

            Rob was followed by a rehearsed reading of Sophie Swithinbank’s Even in Arcadia, a modern retelling of Brideshead Revisited with female protagonists. An engrossing and tightly-paced story of sexual fluidity, alcoholism and addiction, by turns moving and funny, it was enhanced by the electrifying performances of Amelia Holt as Sabrina, Matthew Staite as Joseph and Abby McCann as Charley.

            As Dr Cooke said, Beckley has always welcomed writers with open arms – open Abingdon Arms, that is – so our special thanks go to Aimee for keeping the pub open late for this memorable evening.    

Beckfest 2019 - 29th June - Annual Beer and Music Festival

Saturday 29th June Midday till late. BECKFEST. Annual Beer and Music Festival. There will be a whole range of real local ale and cider, local and guest acoustic artists and bands; expect Folk, Americana, Country and some unexpected twists along the way! There will be plenty of family fun including a colouring-in corner, professional FREE face-painting, giant jenga and a treasure hunt to boot! **ALL RAISING MONEY FOR ‘MAGGIE’S OXFORD’, a local charity offering free practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer and their families and friends. Anyone clicking ‘JOIN’ on the event on Facebook gets immediately entered into a prize draw for a Beckfest 19 goody bag - worth £50!!

More details here.

Join us on June 3rd - City of Inspiration: The role of Oxford in the life and work of Evelyn Waugh and as catalyst for new writing in 2019

Join us on Monday 3rd June for a dynamic evening of readings and discussion as we welcome Dr Barbara Cooke (Co - Executive Editor of the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh) back to the Abingdon Arms, to read from her 2018 publication, Evelyn Waugh's Oxford. Dr Cooke will be in good company as she will be joined by poet, Dr Robert M. Francis and playwright, Ms Sophie Swithinbank, both of whom will be performing readings of new, Oxford - inspired writing, created during their time as the 2019 David Bradshaw Creative Writers in Residence, at Worcester College and the Bodleian Library.

For more information about the Complete Works project, The David Bradshaw Creative Writing Residency and our guest speakers, please visit:


As was discussed last year when a blue plaque was installed to commemorate Evelyn Waugh’s colourful association with The Abingdon Arms, a Creative Writing Residency has been established to draw on Waugh’s creativity and to inspire new literary creation – see

It is hoped that the writer in residence will develop links with Beckley and The Abingdon Arms, possibly including delivery of a talk in our literary programme. But more immediately, would any resident of our community like to apply for the writing residency?

Anyone reading this newsletter who is interested in applying for the residency, please note that applications close at 5pm on Friday 15th March.

New Laminated Ordnance Survey Map of Otmoor and the surrounding villages

BACBS has commissioned a small, folding, laminated OS-based map of the Otmoor area with the aim of encouraging residents and visitors alike to walk, cycle, to enjoy our lovely countryside and its amenities – the pubs, shops, nature reserves and other points of interest. The maps are available for sale (£4.50) at The Abingdon Arms, Stanton St John and Islip Village Shops, and the Ampleforth Arms (Risinghurst), Talkhouse (Stanton St John), White Horse (Forest Hill), Nut Tree (Murcott) and Crown (Charlton on Otmoor) pubs.

We want to recruit more walk leaders, and volunteers to help us map local routes for an on-line collection of local walks and cycle rides. If you are interested, please contact Mike Hobbs -

Burns Night Dinner 25th January

Celebrate the life of the great Scottish Bard, Robert Burns at the Abingdon Arms

The evening will feature a traditional Scottish three course menu along with a Scottish piper and readings of the some of the Bard's poems.

What better way to warm the cockles during the coldest month than with friends, delicious food and liberal drams of whisky. Click here for the menu

Tickets are £25 per person and available at The Abingdon Arms 01865 655667

Abingdon Arms to get accessible facilities after being awarded grants by SODC and the More than a Pub Scheme

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We are delighted to announce that South Oxfordshire District Council has awarded us (the Beckley & Area Community Benefit Society) a Community Capital Grant of up to £101,000 towards the cost of constructing a fully accessible toilet block and other access improvements at The Abingdon Arms. 
This will enable us to proceed with the project, in conjunction with the £50,000 grant from the “More than a Pub” scheme and £50,000 matched-loan from Co-operative and Community Finance. 
We hope to start construction in the Autumn.


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