Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


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...

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