The Whyte-Melville is unique among English literary pubs in that it started life as a private house which became the home of a talented but now obscure writer -
and was later named after him. George John Whyte-Melville (1821-1878), was an English novelist, educated at Eton who joined the 93rd Highlanders in 1839 and became a captain in the Coldstream Guards
in 1846. The following August he married Charlotte Hanbury and they moved here to this classical double fronted Victorian villa. The couple had one daughter but their married life was not happy.
George retired in 1849 and devoted his time at first to translating Horace. He published his first novel, Digby Grand in 1853. This was the year war broke out in the Crimea and he went out to fight as a volunteer major of Turkish irregular cavalry. Following his safe return he went on to write twenty-one novels and bound copies of them are on display in this homely village pub.
George Whyte-Melville was the laureate of fox-hunting and all his most popular and distinctive heroes and heroines; Digby Grand, Tilbury Nogo, the Honourable Crasher, Mr Sawyer, Kate Coventry, Mrs Lascelles, are or would be, mighty hunters. Several of his novels are historical, The Gladiators being the best known. He also published volumes of poetry but it is for his portrayal of contemporary sporting society that he is most regarded. The hero of many a stiff ride meeting, he ironically met his end in 1878, galloping quietly over a ploughed field in the Vale of the White Horse during a hunt.
When John Galsworthy went up to Oxford in 1886, he had fallen under the spell of Whyte-Melville and of those ‘bright beings’ in his novels. In Galsworthy’s A Sad Affair, Jolyon Forsyte goes up to Cambridge: “…a little intoxicated on the novels of Whyte- Melville. From continually reading about whiskered dandies, garbed to pefection and imperturbably stoical in the trying circumstances of debt and discomfiture…” Many years later Jolyon reminisced about those: "golden sixties when the world was simple, dandies glamourous, Democracy not born, and the books of Whyte-Melville coming thick and fast".
The Whyte-Melville pub in church street Boughton has been sympathetically extended since the sporting author lived here. There is a selection of reasonably priced food on offer and up to three or four well kept real ales.