Hitherton-on-the-Wole. Town in the hills of the Cotswolds in southwestern England, which are not like the Pennines in northern England. Here, the wind is gentle, the scale is smaller, and sunlight turns the stone houses a soft pink. Hitherton-on-the-Wole may be less picturesque than Broadway or Chipping Campden, but it is still a pretty Cotswold village, where thirty-seven-year-old Elizabeth Trant has long tended her elderly father at the hall. His death and her inheritance free her to change direction, and on impulse she buys a small car and embarks on adventure (though her initial plan is only to visit a few cathedral towns, such as Ely).
Washbury Manor School. Redbrick boarding school for boys in East Anglia. Here the land is flat and dreary, crisscrossed by drainage canals that make the fens habitable. Winds blowing down from the North Sea scour the desolate landscape. The school stands near a tiny hamlet, where Inigo Jollifant, a young schoolmaster, labors unhappily. A Cambridge graduate with an undiscovered gift for songwriting, he decides to leave the cheerless classrooms and cabbage-water-smelling precincts of the school to take to the road.
Rawsley Station. Small-town depot in which the novel’s principal characters converge–the three outsiders and a theatrical company down on its luck owing to its manager’s having absconded with its funds, leaving the players unpaid. The proprietor of the station’s dismal tearoom behaves harshly, and Miss Trant impulsively takes on the company’s debts and management. Inigo replaces the departed pianist, and Jesiah Oakroyd handles backstage chores.
Sandybay. Second-tier resort town on the east coast in which the troupe enjoys its first big success. Through the autumn the troupe plays a number of small inland cities in various “Winter Gardens, Alfresco Pavilions, Kursaals, Châlets, and Playhouses” from the Rawsley Assembly Rooms to Dotworth, “a one-eyed hole.” Sandybay is a fishing village but big enough to support a pier with a “Pavilion, which looked like an overgrown and neglected greenhouse,” equipped with a real stage, proper lights, curtain, and grand piano.
Winstead. Pleasant market town with a cobblestone square, sophisticated shops, fine churches, gabled houses, and a small playhouse, in which the Good Companions play to responsive audiences.
Haxby. “Hateful” town, dirty, economically depressed, smelly, full of empty failed shopfronts, an example of a community with poor morale and little hope.
Tewborough. Failed industrial town, “a money-making machine that had almost stopped working,” one of the ugliest towns in the Midlands, a place of dust, cobwebs and decay. Among the bleakest stops in the troupe’s travels.
Luddenstall. Provincial Yorkshire town that looks “like a Gas Works all spread out” but is nevertheless the home of appreciative theater-goers. Surrounded by dark, steep, snow-drifted moors and hills netted with tram lines in stony vertical streets, it is a warm and satisfactory place for the company to perform at Christmas time.
The Triangle. Nickname for three industrial towns–Gatford, Mundley, and Stort–devoted to automobile manufacturing. The growth of little redbrick suburbs has drawn the three communities into one “Tin Triangle” whose borders are indistinct. Here the company has its greatest success but also comes to its dissolution when a cinema owner whose business has been hurt by live theater pays hooligans to disturb a performance, leading to a riot and fire damage to the Gatford Hippodrome. Miss Trant remains near Gatford and marries a doctor she met years earlier. The other members of the troupe scatter to various real places.