The old man in Purgatory has mixed feelings towards his mother. On the one hand, he thinks she made a foolish mistake in marrying his father, a complete scoundrel and ne'er do well. She came from a noble family, yet defied her parents in marrying beneath her class. As soon as her husband got his feet under the table, so to speak, he set about ruining the old house and his wife's good name with his alcoholism and improvidence. Indeed, he it was who burned down the stately home in a fit of drunken rage.
At the same time, the old man sees all the noble aspects of his character as deriving from his mother and her side of the family. Although the charred shell of what was once a beautiful stately home depresses him, it also reminds him of the good times, when the house was filled with magistrates, colonels, Members of Parliament, captains and Governors, and all manner of social worthies. His mother is responsible for those wonderful memories, for which the old man is immensely grateful, as they are the only things he has left from the wreckage of what was once his family home.