Companion to Pomfret Towers

Painfully shy Alice Barton must go to a house party at Pomfret Towers. Other participants are her brother Guy, Sally and Roddy Wicklow, and Hermione, Phoebe and Julian Rivers. Hosts are crotchety Old Lord Pomfret and the frail Lady Pomfret. Present also are Giles (Gillie) Foster, heir to the earldom, and Miss Merriman, Lady Pomfret’s secretary. Miss Merriman is fond of Gillie, but he falls in love with Sally Wicklow, whose strength gives him courage to face his heavy burden in the future. Highlights: Hermione tries to throw Phoebe at Gillie’s head; Sally helps with estate business and impresses Lord Pomfret; whose domineering ways hide a soft heart; Phoebe and Guy become engaged and unengaged; Roddy Wicklow protects and defends Alice from selfish Julian; Gillie rescues her from supercilious servants, and she finds she really enjoyed the party. Gillie wins Sally, Roddy wins Alice. Thirkell at her best; an excellent look at the pomp and ceremony of a pre-WWII house party given by a wealthy host.


Book Title and Abbreviation

High Rising HR
Wild Strawberries WS
The Demon in the House DH
Mrs. Morland and Son MMS
August Folly AF
Summer Half SH
Pomfret Towers PT
The Brandons B
Before Lunch BL
Cheerfulness Breaks In CBI
Northbridge Rectory NR
Marling Hall MH
Growing Up GU
The Headmistress H
Miss Bunting MB
Peace Breaks Out PBO
Private Enterprise PE
Love Among the Ruins LAR
The Old Bank House OBH
County Chronicle CC
The Duke’s Daughter DD
Happy Return HR2
Jutland Cottage JC
What Did It Mean? WDM
Enter Sir Robert ESR
Never Too Late NTL
A Double Affair DA
Close Quarters CQ
Love at All Ages LAA
Three Score and Ten TST


Character, Description, and Book Abbreviations

Bacon, Mr. One-time rival to publishing firm Bungay, but was absorbed by it in a consolidation in 1887. Publisher of books by Arthur Pendennis, Esq. PT
Barton, Alice Daughter of Walter and Susan Barton of Nutfield Village. Delicate, timid, romantic, and studious, she attended her first house party at Pomfret Towers and was attracted by the repulsive Julian Rivers, an “artist,” then came to her senses and married big, protective Roddy Wicklow. Three children: Guy, Alice, Phoebe. PT, BL, CBI, MH, HM, MB, PE, OBH, WDIM, ESR, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S& T
Barton, Guy Son of Walter and Susan Barton. Briefly engaged to Phoebe Rivers in PT. Later married daughter of the Archdeacon. Was in RAF in the war, then partner in his father’s architecture firm. PT, CBI, MH, PE, JC, WDIM, ESR, CQ, LAA
Barton, Mrs. Guy Strong-willed and competent daughter of the Archdeacon. Engagement to Guy Barton is announced in CBI. Her mother was a Rivers. Organized Land Girls during war. PT, B, CBI, MH
Barton, Susan Author of historical novels about obscure bastards of Popes and Cardinals. Lived more in the sixteenth century than in the present. Husband Walter, children Guy and Alice. PT, CBI, MH, PE, CC, WDIM, ESR, DA, CQ, LAA
Barton, Walter Resident of Mellings House in Nutfield on Pomfret Estate. Senior partner of architecture firm Barton and Wicklow. Wife Susan, children Guy and Alice. His firm repaired Hiram’s Hospital. Author of Minor Domestic Architecture of East Barsetshire. PT, BL, CBI, NR, MH, HM, PE, OBH, WDIM, ESR, DA, CQ, LAA
Billie Artist’s model, housekeeper (and etc.!) for Bolikoff, who painted her as a rather nightmarish abstract or surrealist painting described enthusiastically by Julian Rivers. Deceased. PT
Boccafiume, Cardinal Descendant of the Borgias. Wrote to Mrs. Barton about her book. PT, LAA
Bolikoff Artist and Russian expatriate admired by Julian Rivers and despised by everyone else. PT
Bones Family in Nutfield. Children Alf and Jimmy. Father a butcher. PT
Bungay, Mr. Rival publisher to Mr. Johns. Partner of Hobb. PT, LAR, OBH
Carter Chauffeur to the Bartons PT
Caxton, Mrs. b. 1884. Housekeeper at Pomfret Towers. Probably wife of gamekeeper, mother of Hallidays’ estate carpenter. PT, ESR
Charles Underfootman at Pomfret Towers. Used to carry children upstairs to nursery when Agnes (Leslie) Graham was a girl. Entertained children by singing comic songs, playing the Jew’s-harp, and pretending to fall downstairs. PT, ESR
Chiffinch, Nurse Known as “Squiffy” to her nursing friends, Sisters Heath and Ward. First seen in PT caring for those ill of influenza. Drove Julian Rivers to distraction by being motherly. Later was nurse to Mrs. Keith and Lady Emily Leslie. Was at Cottage Hospital in MB. Shared apartment with Sisters Heath and Ward, and they planned to open a nursing home for wealthy patients needing unnecessary care. DH, PT, CBI, MH, GU, HM, MB, PBO, CC, DD, HR2, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S&T
Chips Sally Wicklow’s fox terrier. PT
Chloe Sally Wicklow’s lurcher PT
Cloves, Mr. “Only a shooting man” who was unwillingly forced by Lord Pomfret to talk to Hermione Rivers at dinner. PT
Coates, Adrian Publisher of Laura Morland’s books. Lived in London. Proposed to Mrs. Morland under the influence of a motor wreck and George Knox’s punch, was refused (to his relief), later married Knox’s daughter Sibyl. HR1, DH, PT, B, CBI, NR, MH, MB, PBO, LAR, CC, DD, HR2, JC, WDIM, ESR, LAA, 3S&T, MMS
Crawley, Josiah Canon, Dean of Barchester. First seen as a friend of Lady Pomfret in PT. Eight children, 17 grandchildren in PE. Had shared digs with George Knox at Oxford. Once blackballed Sir Ogilvy Hibberd for Polyanthus Club. Grandson of Josiah Crawley, curate of Hogglestock in Trollope’s novels. Opposed Bishop’s parsimony and low-church, Liberal views. DH, SH, PT, B, CBI, NR, MH, GU, HM, MB, PBO, PE, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, WDIM, ESR, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S&T
Croke, Abner American novelist whose books were published by Mr. Johns. Johns wooed him away from competitors by a dinner at which he acted as a sympathetic listener to Mr. Croke’s interminable conversation. PT
Dixon, Mrs. Lived at Starveacres, reputed to be a witch who would magic a fox away if she didn’t get five shillings on Michaelmas Day. PT, WDIM
Fairfield Member of firm Johns and Fairfield, publishers of George Knox’s books. HR1, PT, CBI, MH, LAR, HR2, JC, CQ
Faraday-Home, Miss Representative of female contingent of “irrepressible youth” at the house party in PT. Squealed and made unintelligent and featherbrained remarks at the slightest provocation. Along with Peter and Micky, responsible for many pranks and much liveliness. PT
Finch Uncle of odd-job man at Pomfret Towers. One of the worst poachers in the county, but would only poach on Lord Pomfret’s land. PT, WDIM
Finch Servant at Pomfret Towers. Formerly boot-and-knife boy, then odd-job man. PT, WDIM
Finch Father of odd-job man at Pomfret Towers. Figured in an amusing story of a folding fire escape. PT
Foster, Edith, Lady Pomfret d. 1938. Wife of 7th Earl, Old Lord Pomfret. Mother of Lord Mellings, who was killed in border skirmish in India. Nee Thorne. Once beloved of Lord Stoke. Invalid, living mostly abroad. Died before BL. PT, BL, CBI, MH, HM, MB, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, JC, WDIM, DA, LAA, 3S&T
Foster, Giles, Lord, 7th Earl d. 1940. Old Lord Pomfret. Resided at Pomfret Towers. Fabled for rudeness, boring dinners, and efforts to prevent modernization of the surrounding countryside. Brother of Lady Emily Leslie and Lady Agnes Foster. Married Edith Thorne. Author of A Landowner in Five Reigns. Bought Pooker’s Piece to keep Sir Ogilvy Hibberd from building on it. Died in May 1940, in CBO, with the names of his dead wife and son on his lips. PT, B, BL, CBI, NR, MH, GU, MB, PBO, PE, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S&T
Foster, Major d. 193?. Father of Giles, 8th Earl of Pomfret. One gathers he was something of a wastrel. Lived much of his life in Italy. PT, MH, OBH, DD, WDIM, ESR, DA, CQ, LAA
Giulia Old Lady Pomfret’s King Charles Spaniel. PT, DA
Hero Sally Wicklow’s Great Dane. Was sold after frightening Alice Barton into a faint. PT
Hoare d. 1942. Estate agent for Old Lord Pomfret in PT. Came to Towers as an under-agent when he was 30. Succeeded by Roddy Wicklow. PT, HM, LAR, OBH, DD, WDIM, CQ
Hobb, Mr. Member of literary agency, partner of Bungay. PT, OBH
Horton Butler to the Bartons at Pomfret Madrigal. Died in HM (1943). PT, HM
Johns Publisher in the firm of Johns and Fairfield. Published George Knox, Hermione Rivers, and Susan Barton. Uncle of Mr. Wickham. His wife was well-known for giving extremely dull parties for literary lions. HR1, DH, PT, CBI, MH, PE, LAR, OBH, CC, HR2, JC, CQ, LAA, 3S&T
Knox, Sibyl Daughter of widower George Knox of High Rising. Rather silly, and, after an unsuccessful attempt to become a writer, became engaged to Adrian Coates, publisher, in HR1. 3 children by time of CBI, eldest is Laura. HR1, DH, PT, CBI, GU, MB, DD, LAA, 3S&T, MMS
Marston, Prof. A correspondent of Mrs. Barton on historical matters concerning one of her books. A scholar who “knows so much about the Renaissance that his books consist almost entirely of footnotes.” Wrote a book about Pomfret ancestors. PT, LAA
McGregor General manager for sales for Johns and Fairfield, Publishers. PT
Mellings, Lord Harry Ludovic Son of Old Lord Pomfret. Killed in a border skirmish on the NW frontier. PT, BL, PBO, LAR, OBH, WDIM, DA, LAA, 3S&T
Menski Author of Worm That Eateth the Flesh, for which Bolikoff did cover art. Admired by Julian Rivers, which is enough to earn the disgust of all right-thinking Thirkellians. PT
Merriman, Dorothea Frances “Merry,” Old Lady Pomfret’s secretary in PT at first introduction. Very efficient, self-effacing, and conscientious. Had an invalid married sister whom she sometimes visited. Was secretly and quietly in love with Gillie Foster. When he married Sally Wicklow and became Lord Pomfret, she went as companion to Lady Emily Leslie. Returned to Pomfret Towers after Lady Emily’s death to help with county business and ease the load on the frail but hard-working earl. Married Rev. Herbert Choyce in DA. One of AT’s most memorable and sympathetic characters. PT, MH, HM, PBO, LAR, OBH, CC, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, LAA, 3S&T
Mickey Along with Peter, the embodiment of idiotic youth, full of pranks and liveliness at Pomfret Towers house party. Bertie Wooster and the Drones would have welcomed him with open arms. PT
Milward, Prof. Young historian at Pomfret Towers house party. Wrote a history of Pomfret family. PT, LAA
Monte Cristo,  Duke of A “cosmopolitan doyen of the diplomatic world.” Wrote to Mrs. Barton about her book. PT, LAA
Pendennis, Arthur Victorian novelist whose publisher was Mr. Bacon. PT
Penny Old Scotch Terrier belonging to the Bartons. PT
Peter Along with Mickey, the embodiment of idiotic youth, full of pranks and liveliness at Pomfret Towers house party. Bertie Wooster and the Drones Club would have welcomed them with open arms. PT
Peters b. 1898. Butler at Pomfret Towers. His sister was Nannie Peters, the Pomfrets’ nurse; another sister married one of the Margetts and was Jasper’s mother. Worked briefly for Lord Norton in his London flat. Later married and worked for Lord Crosse. PT, OBH, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, 3S&T
Pomfret, (Alured?), Lord, 1st Earl Awarded the title for services to Prince of Orange in 1689. Older brother of Eustace. Also described as Eustace’s father. PT, WDIM, LAA
Pomfret, Eustace Founder of the Italian branch of Pomfret family. Left England because of Catholic sympathies. Brother of 1st Earl. PT, ESR, LAA
Pomfret, Giles de A twelfth-century ancestor of Pomfrets. Built Pomfret Towers. PT, LAA
Pomfret, Lord, 3rd Earl Impoverished family by his gaming losses, so they had to move to Mellings, allowing Pomfret Towers to fall into ruins. PT, PE, LAA
Pomfret, Lord, 4th Earl Regained family wealth by discovery of coal on a northern property. Planned to build a Palladian mansion, but was killed in a fall from his horse. PT
Pomfret, Lord, 5th Earl Died after drinking damnation to his trustees for a week on end at the time of his coming of age. PT
Pomfret, Lord, 6th Earl “Affectionate husband and father,” children Giles, Emily, and Agnes. One of the “most insufferable prigs of Victoria’s reign.” Rebuilt Pomfret Towers, inspired by St. Pancras Station at a cost of £100,000. Eyes like a pig and fringe of red hair around bald head. Used to swear at the footmen. His wife was the author of the shocking A Step Too Far. WS, PT, PBO, PE, OBH, HR2, WDIM, ESR, LAA
Pomfret, Giles, Lord, 7th Earl d. 1940. Old Lord Pomfret. Resided at Pomfret Towers. Fabled for rudeness, boring dinners, and efforts to prevent modernization of the surrounding countryside. Brother of Lady Emily Leslie and Lady Agnes Foster. Married Edith Thorne. Author of A Landowner in Five Regins. Bought Pooker’s Piece to keep Sir Ogilvy Hibberd from building on it. Died in May 1940, in CBO, with the names of his dead wife and son on his lips. PT, B, BL, CBI, NR, MH, GU, MB, PBO, PE, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S&T
Pomfret, Neville de A Pomfret ancestor who benefited from the dissolution of the monasteries. Died suddenly—death attributed to poisoning by an ex-abbot disguised as an apothecary. PT
Rivers, George Cousin of Old Lord Pomfret, husband of Hermione, who “drove him nearly demented.” Rarely left his home in Herefordshire. PT, MH, PE, LAR, CC, DD, HR2, ESR, DA, LAA, 3S&T
Rivers, Hermione Wife of George Rivers, mother of Phoebe and Julian. Niece of Old Lord Nutfield, Amabel Marling’s father. Wrote books about middle-aged women’s platonic love affairs with younger men. PT, CBI, MH, HM, PBO, PE, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, ESR, NTL, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S&T
Rivers, Julian One of the few thoroughly despicable Thirkell characters. Long-haired, unwashed, considered himself an artist but is best at being a conceited prig. A member of the “Set of Five,” a group of artists as inept as himself. Made a pest of himself to naive Alice Barton in PT, until Roddy Wicklow rescued her. Unwillingly in Army briefly during war, but rescued as a “valuable artist.” PT, MH, HM, PBO, PE, HR2, ESR, NTL, CQ, 3S&T
Rivers, Osbert Ancestor of Julian Rivers. Went blind. PT
Rivers, Phoebe Actress. Had short-lived engagement to Guy Barton in PT. Married Lord Humberton (or Harberton), Lord Platfield’s eldest son. More likable than her mother Hermione or brother Julian. PT, CBI, MH, HR2, ESR
Robinson, Juan Friend of the Archdeacon. Lived in Buenos Aires. His father lived in Las Palombas. PT, CBI
Smith, Ernest An acquaintance of the Archdeacon, mentioned as living in Buenos Aires with his family, the center of Buenos Aires social life. PT
Stoke, Lord Thomas b. 1866. Ancient and eccentric antiquarian, half-brother of Lucasta Bond. A bachelor who once loved Edith Thorne (who married Old Lord Pomfret). Traveled by horse and carriage or on horseback in defiance of modern age. Was convinced that everything he dug up was Viking remains. Extremely and conveniently deaf. In NTL, he is called Algernon Courcy Stoke and is said to have been born in 1876. HR1, DH, PT, B, BL, CBI, MH, GU, MB, PBO, PE, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S&T, MMS
Strelsa, Guido Brother of the present Count Strelsa. “A blackguard who had been turned out of every gambling hell in Europe.” Pictured in LAA as shaky, toothless, and bald, being cared for by a nurse. PT, OBH, NTL, DA, LAA
Tucker, Mrs. Of Starveacre Hatches. Had three invalid and mentally defective children. PT
Van der Meer Of Van der Meer and Applebaum, the American branch of Johns and Fairfield, publishers. PT
Wheeler Aunt of housemaid at Pomfret Towers. Figured in an amusing story about a folding fire escape at Pomfret Towers. Apparently also the aunt of Bill Wheeler. PT, WDIM
Wheeler, Bill “Wheeler’s cousin” at Little Misfit, the only man who really understood the Pomfret Towers chimneys. “Old Wheeler” of the Pomfret estate. PT, HM, LAR, OBH, CC, HR2, JC, WDIM, CQ, LAA
Wheeler, Esme Married sister of Pomfret Towers housemaid. PT
Wicklow, Roddy Son of Mr. Wicklow of Barton and Wicklow, Architects. Assistant estate agent to Mr. Hoare at Pomfret Towers, later took over the estate himself. Big, good-natured, he married Alice Barton and became invaluable assistant to his brother-in-law Giles, Lord Pomfret. Wounded in leg, which kept him out of most of the war, but returned to fight in Belgium near the war’s end. PT, B, BL, CBI, MH, GU, HM, MB, PBO, PE, LAR, OBH, DD, WDIM,  ESR, NTL, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S&T
Wicklow, Sally b.1914. Daughter of Mr. Wicklow the architect. Enthusiastic outdoorswoman who loved horses and dogs, “the best hands in the county.” Married Giles Foster, who became Lord Pomfret, and took much of the burden of duties over from him because of his poor health. Children Ludovic, Emily, Giles. Conscientious and hard-working, she was on every important committee during and after the war. PT, B, CBI, MH, HM, MB, PBO, PE, LAR, OBH, CC, DD, HR2, JC, WDIM, ESR, NTL, DA, CQ, LAA, 3S&T
Wimple, Lady Guest at Pomfret Towers house party. Covered three sofas and forty-five chairs with needlepoint, but was forced to listen to Hermione Rivers telling her how to do it. PT
Wuffy Sally Wicklow’s Airedale. PT