By Sam Barker
Toponymically, last year’s appearance of the pop-up Lost Souls’ Bar at the end of Chideock’s Hell Lane seemed an inspired arrival. Where better to drown your sorrows in the post-Brexit, post-affordable housing, post-lapsarian world of uncomfortable convictions than a watering-hole named after purgatory at the lower end of hell?
I was going to go. I was going to walk to Lost Souls by Hell Lane at dusk and stumble back in the dark, telling myself I had nothing to fear but the ruts and idiot motorcyclists who presume the Lane is for their use only.
I didn’t. And now I can’t: I’m informed that Lost Souls has been closed, its clientele cast out into the newly renovated Clock House.
Chideock has long been a village of divisions. Before the disagreements about the road (Should, or should not, a tall plastic barrier be erected next to the pavement to dull the sound of traffic?), there were the disagreements about religion. In the 16th century, Catholic priests were banned and vagabond clergy went rogue around Chideock, hiding in folds and thickets before being caught and tortured. – So maybe bikes aren’t the only things to be feared in the dark up Hell Lane after all?
Now, though, it seems there’s a new fault line in the village: between the nihilists who would drink cheap pints in the arbitrary, uncomfortable Lost Souls Bar and the formalists who’d have a scampi and chips in the Clock House, reopened in June after catching fire and undergoing £500k of reconstructive surgery.
In theory, the establishments should be able to co-exist. In fact, Lost Souls’ – whose tenuous existence under a temporary licence never suggested endurance – has closed. Clamorous Chideock people want to get fully behind the Clock House. Lost Souls’ signage has gone. Its doors have shut. It’s been euthanized. A private party thrown Lost Souls’ venue after its death was allegedly infiltrated by an irate villager decrying its resurrection. Lost Souls must not be allowed to persist.
This seems a shame. Walking along Hell Lane to the Clock House, refurbished or not, doesn’t have the same ring.