Greshamsbury Court. Ancient ancestral home of the Gresham family in Anthony Trollope’s fictional Barsetshire. Despite extreme economic hardship, the home represents Barsetshire’s wealthy landowners. To pay his debts, Squire Gresham sells one-third of his estate to Roger Scatcherd. Gresham welcomes nonaristocrats to Greshamsbury, in which the penniless orphan Mary Thorne is long treated almost as one of the Gresham children. Even Scatcherd, the wealthy but alcoholic stonemason, is not shunned by the squire.
The squire’s son, Frank, is heir to the Gresham title and estate, but he comes to hate Greshamsbury and his obligation to marry money to avoid financial ruin. If inheriting the family means losing Mary’s love, he prefers to reject it and instead become a lawyer, doctor, or farmer. Frank sees Greshamsbury as a burden; Mary sees it as a home no longer welcoming to her. To the squire, the estate symbolizes his failure to protect Frank’s inheritance.
Greshamsbury stands as a barometer of the characters’ attitudes. Like De Courcy Castle, Greshamsbury falters and nearly crumbles while its finances and pedigree are controlled by Squire and Lady Gresham. Unlike De Courcy Castle’s undiluted aristocracy, however, Greshamsbury is revived by a healthy mix of people with and without social pedigrees, old wealth, or newly inherited wealth. The involvement of Mary, Dr. Thorne, and Roger Scatcherd rescues Greshamsbury from ruin. As Greshamsbury’s newest owner, Mary returns it to the Gresham family instead of using it for revenge.
De Courcy Castle
De Courcy Castle. Ancestral Barsetshire home of the noble, wealthy, and highly pedigreed De Courcy family. The estate symbolizes one extreme of social attitude—nobility and superiority over others, an unyielding adherence to rigid standards of class distinction. The castle’s presence is additionally required as a mechanism for bringing Frank Gresham and Miss Dunstable together, until Frank realizes that he values true love over wealth and social standing.
Located in West Barsetshire, the castle is seen by Frank as “dull” and a “huge brick pile.” It appears anachronistic, uninviting, and architecturally unimpressive. Forced by his aunt and mother to visit De Courcy Castle in the hope that he will fall in love with wealthy Miss Dunstable, Frank regards the castle as the embodiment of barrenness of heart. There, he is expected to forget his true love for Mary Thorne and marry the much older heiress, thereby restoring the requisite wealth and position to Greshamsbury.
De Courcy Castle’s apparent coldness resurfaces when Augusta Gresham later seeks cousin Amelia De Courcy’s wisdom concerning Mr. Gazebee, a young attorney; from within the castle’s emotional sterility, Amelia counsels Augusta to reject Gazebee’s proposal because he is merely a laborer, not a landed nobleman. (Ironically, Amelia later realizes the value of Gazebee’s character and marries him herself.)
Gatherum Castle. Satirically named home of the duke of Omnium and the site of Frank Gresham’s disillusionment with upper-class manners. Frank sees the castle as a grand, oversized, fancy, but usually uninhabited shell of a home. Through his eyes, readers see that—like the aristocracy—Gatherum Castle is magnificent and noble when seen from a distance, but up close it lacks any inviting warmth or the simple courtesies of human interaction. Frank desires neither such a home nor such a social circle as those represented by Gatherum.
Boxall Hill. Estate of Roger Scatcherd that is literally and metaphorically the halfway point between Greshamsbury and the city of Barchester. Formerly constituting one-third of the Greshamsbury estate, Boxall Hill becomes Scatcherd’s property as repayment for his loan to the squire. The ownership shift, and the relative ease with which it takes place, marks the Gresham family’s...
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gradually changing attitudes. Significantly, Boxall Hill lies directly between two extremes of locale and of status. As the home’s new owner, Scatcherd is as comfortable with wealth as with the working classes, and in owning such a home sets an example for the “laboring classes” and the upper classes alike.
After Scatcherd’s death, Boxall Hill provides a sanctuary to Mary Thorne, who moves in with Lady Scatcherd briefly when she is exiled from Greshamsbury. Away from the tensions and aristocratic posings of Greshamsbury, Mary relaxes enough to accept Frank’s marriage proposal. However, the comfort and sanctuary she finds at Boxall Hill are greatly diminished with the return of prodigal son Louis Scatcherd, who shares his father’s dangerous alcoholism. After Louis dies, Mary inherits Boxall Hill, and it later becomes her and Frank’s permanent home, still representing a comfortable midpoint between two extremes of class distinction.
Booth, Bradford. Anthony Trollope: Aspects of His Life and Art. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1958. Considers the novel inferior to the two earlier Barsetshire novels because of Trollope’s reliance on melodrama, which detracts from the novel’s realism, but concedes the enormous appeal of Trollope’s storytelling. Also analyzes what he calls Trollope’s conservative-liberalism.
Hall, N. John. Trollope: A Biography. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1991. Comments on the origins of the novel’s plot, its popularity in spite of the critics’ reservations, the engaging narrative mode, and Doctor Thorne as a typical Trollope hero.
MacDonald, Susan Peck. Anthony Trollope. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Concise discussion of the narrator, showing how his interventions intensify the story’s thematic and ethical complexity and enhance the novel’s realism.
Overton, Bill. The Unofficial Trollope. Totowa, N.J.: Barnes & Noble, 1982. Extensive analysis of the novel, emphasizing Trollope’s vision of contemporary history and his handling of the complex plot.
Super, R. H. The Chronicler of Barsetshire: A Life of Anthony Trollope. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1988. Explains the biographical origins of the novel, its relationship with the Barsetshire series, and its critical reception. Also discusses the way in which Trollope handles the theme of marriage in this novel and others.