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Crome

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Crome. English country house that is the seat of the Wimbush family. Formerly a monastery, it was rebuilt in the Elizabethan era by Sir Ferdinando Lapith in accordance with his eccentric theories of sanitation, which involved obtaining a maximum separation of distance between bathrooms (privies)—those at Crome being initially situated at the tops of its three towers—and the sewers into which they empty their wastes. Further rebuilding in the eighteenth century resulted in more practical plumbing facilities, although Sir Ferdinando was by no means the last eccentric to inflict his originality on Crome’s architecture. The estate is still capable of further change—as illustrated by the yearly fair to which it plays host, which brings about a periodic transformation and enlivenment. However, there is a sense in which it is inescapably wedded to a lost past.

A turfed terrace in front of the house has a summerhouse at either end. The beautiful garden that slopes rather dangerously away from the terrace, encompassing a swimming pool, seems strangely monochromatic when viewed from the house, but the high-hedged flower garden conceals a blaze of color. Crome’s interior is a patchwork of obsolete styles: Its long gallery is decorated with Italian primitive paintings and Chinese sculptures; its paneled drawing room is equipped with capacious chintz-upholstered armchairs; its modernized morning room features lemon yellow walls and rococo tables; its dining room is decked out with eighteenth century furniture and art. Similar variety is displayed in the many different kinds of antique beds with which the house’s guest rooms are equipped. Crome also has a library, because no English country house would be complete without one, but none of the fashionable texts about which the assembled houseguests love to talk are contained therein.

The name Crome is obviously a variation of “chrome”; however, the name is not intended to recall the bright metal finish associated with that metal. Chrome yellow is a pigment (neutral lead chromate) that was once familiar to every English child as a staple of watercolor painting boxes. Aldous Huxley invokes that color here because of its autumnal associations.

Camlet-in-the-Water

Camlet-in-the-Water. Railway station situated on an insignificant branch line in the rural heartland of England on which Crome is most easily reached. The station’s name recalls King Arthur’s legendary Camelot, mischievously but not irreverently.

Home farm

Home farm. Part of Crome’s estate most intimately linked to the house, by virtue of the contiguity of its fields with the gardens. One of its unused granaries is appropriated by the painter Gombauld as the studio in which he paints a portrait of Anne Wimbush.

Rectory

Rectory. Gloomy abode of the stern Mr. Bodiham, the clergyman entrusted with the care of the parish in which Crome is situated. Although the rectory is of more recent construction than Crome, its architectural affiliation with the Gothic revival embodies more ancient and more stubborn values. However, Bodiham’s censorious brand of Protestantism makes no more impact on Crome’s inhabitants than the rectory building itself does on the local landscape.

Rational State

Rational State. Hypothetical future society sketched out by Mr. Scogan. It is the antithesis of Crome, and also—allegedly, at least—the destiny to which the house, and the quaintly crazy England it symbolizes, are ultimately bound; it was to be much more elaborately described and condemned in Huxley’s 1932 novel Brave New World.

Gobley Great Park

Gobley Great Park. Stately Georgian home, far more modern than Crome, featured on the picture postcard that Mary receives from Ivor, to add to the other temptations that seem likely to lure her away from her past-mired home. It is,...

(The entire section contains 947 words.)

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