Last weekend was a bank holiday weekend and my husband and I decided to take the kids to the New Forest for a family break. We stayed in a delightful hotel in Brockenhurst (Forest Park Hotel) in a wonderful family room that had two bedrooms and a bathroom (ideal for when you have two small kids who need to go to bed on time). Our room had a view of the New Forest and on a couple of occasions we could see ponies grazing outside of our window. It was very nice.
We also decided to take the children to Paultons Park, which we had not done before. On our way to the park, we drove through the small village of Copythorne and, to my surprise and delight, past a pub called Empress of Blandings. I squealed, much to my husband’s dismay as he was driving. Of course it stands to reason that some references to one of Britain’s greatest author would be found around the country, but it was such a wonderful surprise to chance upon a pub named after the famous pig from Blanding’s Castle. When I lived in Canada and the Netherlands, I often felt that besides my family I was the only one who knew who Wodehouse was. Even though he spent a lot of his life in America, I do not think he is very well known there.
After the kids were all tired out from playing in Paultons Park, we decided to stop by the pub to take some pictures of the sign and to see if we could get some food. A lot of pubs in England only serve food at certain times of the day, but we were happy to see a sign announcing that this pub served food all day.
Upon arrival, we of course took a picture of the sign (above) noting the play on words. Then, as we approached the pub, we noticed another sign painted on the wall of the pub.
I was delighted to see all this, and inside the pub there were more Wodehouse references. There was a whole wall with old books, but upon closer inspection, I could not find one Wodehouse amongst them. Probably the owners were worried about theft. The wall with books did add to the atmosphere though and it was nice to see they were all old, leatherbound books. Two walls in a corner held frames with all the covers of Wodehouse’s books. Another wall had photo’s of Wodehouse and some articles relating to Blandings Castle.
Besides the lovely experience of being in a pub so steeped in Wodehouse, the food was excellent and the service great, so the next time you find yourself in the area of Romsey, nip down the A31 and stop at Empress of Blandings for a bite to eat!