Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Over the years, the English branch of the clan has declined to the point that only wealthy relatives who will contribute materially to Castlewood House’s upkeep are welcome. What little income the mismanaged estate does produce is quickly frittered away by its improvident owner, Lord Castlewood, whose passion for horse racing, gambling, and card-playing has left him deeply in debt. The contrast between Castlewood House in England, the home of a prestigious family but in most other respects a drain on society, and Castlewood House in Virginia, a humbler but far more productive property, symbolizes the novel’s characteristic view of the relationship between a mother country that has lost its moral authority and a colony that retains many worthwhile traditional values.
Since Harry is initially assumed to be a poor relation, it is only after the size of his parents’ property and his status as its heir become known that he is suddenly received with open arms. Lord Castlewood, desperately in need of funds to keep the family solvent, now introduces Harry to the estate’s liveliest and most profitable venue, its card room, where even Sundays are devoted to the rituals of gaming and the family chaplain spends more time at the card table than in church. Although certainly amusing as a satiric portrait of upper-class fads and fancies, the card-room scenes also suggest that English society has adopted rituals which reflect its blind pursuit of monetary gain. Thus, Harry’s eventual loss of all of his assets to Lord Castlewood and other aristocratic gamblers means that he is no longer welcome in their homes and must now rely on his intrinsic merits to make his way in the world.
Castlewood House (Virginia). Site of the Virginia estate of the American branch of the Esmonds. Although most of the novel’s plot is set elsewhere, this property plays an important role in the consciousness of its leading characters. George and Harry Warrington have frequent occasion to remember their birthplace’s comfort and graciousness, whereas their venal English relations are more inclined to picture it as an abundant source of money ripe for the plucking. Throughout, Castlewood House in Virginia represents a place of prosperity and possibility that contrasts with its English equivalent’s moral as well as economic impoverishment.
Lambert home. Country estate of Colonel, later General, Martin Lambert, his wife, and their two daughters in Oakhurst, England. When Harry Warrington suffers a highway accident outside their door, the Lamberts care for him and in the process provide a welcome alternative to what Harry has so far experienced among the English upper classes. The Lamberts’ interest in Harry’s well-being is not motivated by thoughts of pecuniary gain, but arises from a genuine concern for him as a person who is in need of their assistance. The Lamberts and their simple, unaffected approach to life, which is reflected in their unpretentious but comfortable and efficiently run home, represent those traditional English values that the novel sees as threatened by the unprincipled greed of Lord Castlewood and his cronies.
Lambert apartment. London residence of the Lambert family–a place as pleasant and welcoming as their country house. It is here that George and Harry fall in love with the Lamberts’ daughters amid further scenes of what the narrative pictures as a nurturing family life.
*Bailiff’s house. Cursitor Street, London, jail in which Harry is imprisoned for debt after gambling losses and injudicious purchases on credit. That his relatives sanction his incarceration in this bleak, friendless institution underlines how completely they have abandoned him. It is only the reappearance of his brother, George–held captive by the French but finally ransomed–that rescues Harry from his plight. His brother’s blood, at least, proves to be thicker than water.
*London. Capital of Great Britain and center of English social and cultural life, and the background to approximately half of the narrative. As in many of William Makepeace Thackeray’s other novels, notably Vanity Fair (1848), London is viewed as a vital, complex, and rather dangerous place, in which high artistic achievement and highway robbery are equally likely to occur.
*Tunbridge Wells. Resort community for the upper classes about fifty miles southeast of London. The rise and fall of social reputation is the common currency of life at “The Wells,” where rumors of Harry’s wealth have preceded him and he is much sought after by marriageable young women and their monstrously ambitious mothers. The town’s obsession with superficial values is portrayed as a more concentrated case of what is wrong with English society in general.