Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Tantamount House

Tantamount House. Home of the Tantamount family in one of the most fashionable addresses in London—on Pall Mall Street, between the Reform Club and the Traveller’s Club, not far from St. James Palace. Designed in 1839 in an ostentatious Italianate style by the architect Charles Barry (who also designed London’s Houses of Parliament), the house retains most of its original features—including a statue of Venus by Antonio Canova that decorates the marble staircase. However, part of the top floor has been converted into a biological laboratory by the scientifically inclined Lord Edward Tantamount.

The house became the home of the Tantamounts when their northern England estates, between Leeds and Sheffield, were despoiled by the Industrial Revolution. Unlike the tenants of Crome in Huxley’s earlier Crome Yellow (1921), who cling to the old custom of entertaining on weekends in the country, the thoroughly modern Tantamounts hold social evenings to which representatives of London’s intellectual, artistic, and political elites—which are in the process of superseding and displacing the aristocratic elite represented by the Tantamounts—are generously invited. Tantamount House is thus the nucleus of an extensive web of social relationships, whose guests gravitate there from less fashionable London addresses and maintain significant contacts with elements of the British Empire as far-flung as India and Canada.


Gattenden. Village in the Chiltern hills in Hertfordshire, site of Gattenden Park and Gattenden Hall. The residence of John Bidlake and his...

(The entire section is 676 words.)