Places: The Small House at Allington

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: serial, 1862-1864; book, 1864

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Domestic realism

Time of work: Mid-nineteenth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places DiscussedAllington

Allington. Small House at Allington, TheEstate of Squire Christopher Dale in Anthony Trollope’s fictional district of Barsetshire in southern England. The squire lives in the estate’s Great House and his widowed sister-in-law, Mrs. Mary Dale, and her daughters, Bell and Lily Dale, live in its Small House, which is connected to the Great House by adjoining gardens and lawns. The gardens are the setting for Lily’s and Bell’s walks, games, and talks with friends and lovers. Their lively and loving household is also the scene of disappointment and sadness; it is here that Bell refuses to please her uncle by marrying his nephew Bernard, which would ultimately make her mistress of the Great House. Here Lily is joyously pledged to Adolphus Crosbie, hears with pain that he has jilted her, and refuses John Eames’s subsequent offer of marriage.

The Small House represents the dependency of the widow Dale on her brother-in-law, who has provided this dwelling so that she and her daughters might have a comfortable and socially suitable residence. However, when the squire seeks to pressure Bell into marrying his nephew, Mrs. Dale announces that she will leave the comforts of the Small House and their dependency on the squire, for inexpensive lodgings in nearby Guestwick. In the end, tempers cool, Bell is happily married, and Lily and her mother decide to remain in the Small House, near enough to cheer the old squire, who also relents and generously offers to have the whole house freshly painted.

Courcy Castle

Courcy Castle. Home of the dysfunctional family of the Earl de Courcy, that provides Trollope with occasions to expose the small-mindedness, greed, and malice of the nobility. At a showy Christmas reception given at the castle, social criticism is leveled at both the earl’s family and their guests, who are shallow snobs, social climbers, and gossips. Adolphus Crosbie knows that he was much happier in his stay at the Small House in Allington, which the countess ridicules as “primitive” and “rural.” She mocks Crosbie, accusing him of going about with a crook among the country bumpkins of Allington. Expecting social advantages, he proposes to Lady Alexandrina de Courcy. She does not fool herself that they wed for love, but rather knows that her motive is to get a house of her own, one that is less dull and less embittered by torment.


*London. Great Britain’s capital city is the scene of social, political, and economic satire, as Trollope introduces Crosbie’s workplace in the General Committee Office at Whitehall and John Eames’s Income Tax Office. Several scenes are set at Seabright’s, the private club to which Crosbie belongs, and Trollope develops a subplot at John’s London lodgings–Mrs. Roper’s Somerset House. Trollope’s depiction of this boardinghouse is based on his own London experiences as a young man, when he saw his share of sleazy accommodations, tawdry romances, and rowdy confrontations. When John’s finances improve, he escapes the clutches of the designing Amelia Roper and the other residents to seek new lodgings. These shabby boardinghouse scenes contrast with both the loveless flirtations at Courcy Castle and the genuine affections of the Dale women’s Small House.

*Paddington Station

*Paddington Station. London train station that provides John with an opportunity to punish the jilting Crosbie, whom he recognizes on a train to London. Although the encounter is not a heroic duel, he manages to give Crosbie an embarrassing black eye.

Albert Villa

Albert Villa. Home of Crosbie’s future sister-in-law, Lady Amelia, in Hamilton Terrace of London’s St. John’s Wood district. Lady Amelia promises her sister that she will keep an eye on Crosbie until the Valentine’s Day wedding. Crosbie comes to hate the very street lamps and even the geraniums on his way to this house, which gives him an unpleasant taste of the de Courcy coldness and bossiness. While visiting at Albert Villa, his lively, optimistic nature withers.

Princess Royal Crescent

Princess Royal Crescent. Fashionable, but new and expensive area of London in which Crosbie and Lady Alexandrina build a house. It is labeled quite a “correct locality” because from one end, the corner of Hyde Park is visible. Crosbie would prefer a place near Vauxhall Bridge, but Lady Alexandrina puts her foot down. After an expensive wedding on Valentine’s Day, an inexpensive honeymoon in Folkestone, and a dull and cold ten weeks of married life together, she decides to stay indefinitely with her mother and sister in Baden-Baden, Germany. The London house is dismantled, and Crosbie returns to his rooms in Mount Street where he lived as a bachelor.

BibliographyHall, N. John. Trollope: A Biography. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1991. Comprehensive scholarly biography of the novelist. Provides information on the composition and publication history of The Small House at Allington and a brief analysis of the important characters in the novel who also appear in subsequent works by Trollope.Kincaid, James R. The Novels of Anthony Trollope. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1977. Determines that The Small House at Allington is the darkest of the Barsetshire series, which is generally comic in tone; claims that Trollope is intent on undermining the pastoral qualities that characterize earlier novels in the series.MacDonald, Susan Peck. Anthony Trollope. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Discusses The Small House at Allington as one of the novels in which Trollope deals with the topic of love. Focuses on the perversity of the heroine, Lily Dale, and explains how Trollope achieves density and verisimilitude through the use of parallel plots.McMaster, Juliet. “The Small House at Allington: The Moth and the Candle.” In Trollope’s Palliser Novels: Theme and Pattern. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. Excellent analysis of the major themes of the work: the “quest for truth among lies,” and the prevalence of human perversity. Links the work to Trollope’s Palliser series.Super, R. H. The Chronicler of Barsetshire: A Life of Anthony Trollope. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1988. Critical biography of the novelist that provides excellent overview of his major works. Discusses the principal themes of The Small House at Allington and points out ways in which Trollope used it as a bridge between the Barsetshire and the Palliser series.
Categories: Places