Places Discussed

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 913

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Barsetshire. Fictional English county based, according to Trollope, on Somerset. A peaceful rural environment where families have lived for generations, Barsetshire is emblematic of traditional English values: respect for class differences, propriety, time-honored religious observance, and honest agricultural labor.


Barchester. Principal city in Barsetshire and the cathedral city for the Diocese of Barchester, a governance area established by the Church of England. Barchester attracts a wide variety of people whose lives are tied to the church and whose social and economic ambitions focus on its preferments and opportunities. As a center of religious and economic activity, Barchester is a place where newcomers and outsiders challenge the privileges and power of the establishment.

Bishop’s palace

Bishop’s palace. Official residence of the bishop of the Diocese of Barchester. The grandiose appellation of “palace” is a traditional term for a bishop’s residence and is more suggestive of the religious and social prominence of its residents than of their personal wealth. When two longtime parish clerics pay their first call on the new bishop, his wife, Mrs. Proudie, harangues the visitors with niggling complaints about the palace’s dilapidated condition. This scene throws light on Mrs. Proudie’s personality, revealing her to be a vulgar, social newcomer with little sense of propriety or grace. A further comment on Mrs. Proudie’s character may be adduced from the fact that she has converted a bedroom, a study, and the bishop’s sitting room into a suite of drawing rooms and a boudoir for her own particular use. As a result of this renovation, the bishop must work in a back parlor and conduct his clerical meetings in the dining room.

The palace is also the site of Mrs. Proudie’s first big party. It is a notable example of one character’s driving another from the room. In this scene, the beautiful, seductive, and disreputable Signora Neroni places herself on a sofa in a prominent position in a drawing room. As gentlemen jockey for position around the sofa, Mrs. Proudie’s dress is ripped, and she is forced to quit the room in mortified rage. Significant also is Trollope’s description of the drawing rooms as “really very magnificent.” The palace rooms are, like Mrs. Proudie: specious, flashy, and cheap. The treatment of the bishop’s palace typifies Trollope’s approach to setting as an integral element in the portrayal of character and conflict.

Ullathorne Court

Ullathorne Court. Ancestral home of Wilfred Thorne and his sister Miss Thorne. Ullathorne Court exemplifies the traditions of the English country gentry. Uncharacteristically, Trollope devotes a great deal of attention to his description of this home and its gardens. Neither large nor elegant, its chief qualities are its Tudor architecture and its “beautiful rich tawny yellow color, the effect of that stonecrop of minute growth, which it had taken three centuries to produce.” Like its inhabitants, Ullathorne Court is solid, comfortable, and homey. Its windows do more than merely let in light, they impart happiness. The home’s quiet comfort and dignified age, like its owners, represent the highest values in Trollope’s world: sincerity, respect for tradition, enjoyment of nature, steadiness, and kindness. It forms a marked contrast to the bishop’s palace.

Hiram’s Hospital

Hiram’s Hospital. Church-run almshouse where twelve indigent old men are housed and fed. The hospital has a pleasant garden and a comfortable house, where its warden lives. The hospital first appears in Trollope’s The Warden (1855), where it is the subject of heated public debate about the church’s use of charitable resources. In Barchester Towers, the hospital figures as a further source of contention as various characters (Mrs. Proudie, Archdeacon Grantly, and Mr. Slope) compete for power by trying to influence the bishop’s choice of a new warden.


*Italy. Country in which the Stanhope family has been living for many years prior to their return to Barchester. Mr. Stanhope, a prebendary of the cathedral and a priest of several parishes in the vicinity, has been living in Italy for twelve years, collecting his income while curates perform his priestly work. Ordered to return to Barchester by the new bishop, Mr. Stanhope and his family are a “giddy, thoughtless, extravagant set of people,” who appear to have been corrupted by their Italian sojourn. Through their behavior and manners, Italy is evoked as a seductive place where the idle English acquire loose morals and suspicious financial habits.

St. Ewold’s Parsonage

St. Ewold’s Parsonage. Small but pleasant home of the vicar of St. Ewold, a parish in the Diocese of Barchester, located near Plumstead Episcopi, the residence of Archdeacon Grantly and his family. Mr. Arabin, an old friend of Grantly, is installed as the new vicar of St. Ewold through his friend’s influence. Like Mr. Arabin himself, St. Ewold’s parsonage is a modest but respectable house. Trollope tends to give lovely gardens to the homes of characters of whom he approves, and St. Ewold’s is no exception in this regard. Its spacious grounds are dotted with trees and give a beautiful view of the cathedral and of Hiram’s Hospital.


Puddingdale. Home of a desperately poor clergyman, Mr. Quiverful. Father of fourteen children, Mr. Quiverful desires the wardenship of Hiram’s Hospital. Trollope says nothing in particular of his house, but its poignantly comical name underscores Mr. Quiverful’s lowly social status and contrasts with the dignity of Ullathorne Hall and Plumstead Episcopi.


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