Places: Jorrocks’ Jaunts and Jollities

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1838

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Wit and humor

Time of work: 1830’s

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*London

*London. Jorrocks’ Jaunts and JollitiesJorrocks’s home and place of work are both in London. His grocer’s business is located on the real St. Botolph’s Street in the eastern part of the city, while his “elegant residence,” as Surtees describes it, is on Coram Street, north of Russell Square. Friends and acquaintances with whom he goes hunting are encountered on the Strand and at such meeting places as the Piazza coffee room in Covent Garden.

Jorrocks’s hunting excursions take him to the other side of London, south of the Thames, through what were in Surtees’ time villages on the outskirts of London. Many of these places, such as Elephant and Castle, Kennington Common, Brixton Hill, and Streatham Common, are now part of metropolitan London. There are references to places further afield, which are now London suburbs: Blackheath, Eltham, Bromley, Beckenham, and Lewisham. Surtees’ south London is peculiarly evocative in light of the fact that this is now a densely populated area, some of it the embodiment of urban decay.

*East Surrey

*East Surrey. Region immediately southwest of London in which Jorrocks hunts with what is described as the Surrey Hunt. This hunt works the eastern part of the county and neighboring western Kent. The terrain is undulating and at times hilly, much of it consisting of the North Downs. The Surrey Hunt is quite unlike the hunts that Surtees himself knew in the north of England, which were patronized and supported by the landed gentry. The Surrey Hunt was a subscription-hunt, a new form of recreation in the early nineteenth century that appealed to prosperous members of the middle class. Unlike the county packs farther afield, the hounds in such packs were maintained by subscriptions that also paid for professional masters of foxhounds–such as Jorrocks himself becomes in Surtees’ Handley Cross (1843)–as well as for the hunt servants. The meets were held on Saturdays, when city merchants and those engaged in trade (still despised occupations in the eyes of gentleman-hunters) closed their businesses and rode out into the surrounding countryside–as Jorrocks does–to enjoy their sport.


*Croydon. Town outside London at which the London huntsmen meet. From there, they ride to Keston, where the Surrey Hunt foxhounds await them, after which the hunt sets off toward Tatsfield and Chipstead, or sometimes turns west over the Kentish border as far as Westerham. On one occasion, Jorrocks, against his better judgment as a fox-hunter, goes out with the Surrey stag-hounds, and this takes him as far as Tunbridge Wells.


*Newmarket. Village in Cambridgeshire at which Jorrocks attends a horse race with a friend. As an enthusiastic fox-hunter, Jorrocks scorns horse racing, but on one occasion he is persuaded to spend what becomes a wretched day at Newmarket, a principal venue of the racing fraternity since the seventeenth century.


*Margate. Fashionable resort town on the coast of Kent, southeast of London, that Jorrocks goes to when prevailed upon by a friend to pay a visit. He reaches Margate by steamer from London Bridge and finds it a vulgar, rackety place. His stay is definitely spoilt when he goes for a swim and his trousers are swept out to sea by the tide.


*Paris. Capital of France that Jorrocks visits after traveling by coach from London to Dover via Gravesend, Chatham, and Rochester, where the horses are changed. This journey provides Jorrocks with a fine occasion for observing coaching life on the eve of its disappearance. The sea crossing to Boulogne is followed by a coach journey to Paris in the company of the unscrupulous Countess Benvolio. Once in Paris, there is much scope for comic action and for misunderstandings between English and French.

BibliographyCooper, Leonard. R. S. Surtees. London: Arthur Baker, 1952. Biographical study of the novelist. Comments on Jorrocks’ Jaunts and Jollities are interspersed throughout the narrative of Surtees’ career; explains the composition process and the relationship of fictional characters and situations to the author’s life.Gash, Norman. Robert Surtees and Early Victorian Society. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1993. General study of the novelist’s ability to dramatize and comment on social situations in the early decades of the nineteenth century. Relates details of Jorrocks’ Jaunts and Jollities to larger social issues that interested the novelist throughout his career.Hamilton, Alex. Introduction to Jorrocks’ Jaunts and Jollities, by Robert Smith Surtees. London: Cassell, 1968. Excellent commentary on the significance of the novel in Surtees’ career; also explains how it served as the stimulus for later, similar productions, especially those by Dickens and Anthony Trollope.Neumann, Bonnie Rayford. Robert Smith Surtees. Boston: Twayne, 1978. General introduction to the novelist’s career. Includes a scholarly examination of Jorrocks’ Jaunts and Jollities, focusing on Surtees’ development of his title character as a spokesperson for the author’s views about society and its values; describes ways in which Surtees distinguishes genuine emotions from hypocrisy and sham.Welcome, John. The Sporting World of R. S. Surtees. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982. General survey of Surtees’ career. Comments on the development of characters in Jorrocks’ Jaunts and Jollities and on the novel’s publication history.
Categories: Places