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Blandings Castle is a recurring fictional location in the stories of British comic writer P. G. Wodehouse, being the seat of Lord Emsworth (Clarence Threepwood, 9th Earl of Emsworth), home to many of his family, and setting for numerous tales and adventures, written between 1915 and 1975.
The series of stories which take place at the castle, in its environs and involving its denizens have come to be known as the "Blandings books", or indeed, in a phrase used by Wodehouse in his preface to the 1969 reprint of the first book, "the Blandings Castle Saga".
The castle is a noble pile, of Early Tudor building ("its history is recorded in England's history books and Viollet-le-Duc has written of its architecture", according to Something Fresh). One of England's largest stately homes, it dominates the surrounding country, standing on a knoll of rising ground at the southern end of the celebrated Vale of Blandings; the Severn gleams in the distance. From its noble battlements, the Wrekin can be seen.
The famous moss-carpeted Yew Alley (subject to the devious gravelling schemes of Angus McAllister) leads to a small wood with a rough gamekeeper's cottage, which Psmith made use of, not to write poetry as he at first claimed, but to stash stolen jewellery. Another gamekeeper's cottage, in the West Wood, makes a pleasant home for the Empress of Blandings for a spell. The rose garden is another famous beauty spot, ideal for courting lovers. There is a lake, where Lord Emsworth often takes a brisk swim in the mornings.
The house has numerous guest rooms, many of which haven't been used since Queen Elizabeth roamed the country. Of those still in use, the Garden Room is the finest, usually given to the most prestigious guest; it has a balcony outside its French windows, which can be easily accessed via a handy drainpipe.
The main library has a smaller library leading off it, and windows overlooking some flowerbeds; it is here that Lord Emsworth is often to be found on wet days, his nose deep in an improving tome of country lore, his favourite being Whiffle on The Care of the Pig.
There have been a number of attempts to locate and identify the possible locations of Blandings:
The master of Blandings is, nominally at least, Lord Emsworth. Clarence, the ninth Earl, is an amiably absent-minded old chap, who is charming because of his slow, relaxed lifestyle and the simple obsessions that make him oblivious to the absurd melodrama of his family, namely his home, gardens, pumpkins and his champion pig, Empress of Blandings. He is never happier than when pottering about the grounds on a fine sunny day.
Lord Emsworth's ten sisters (all of whom look like the "daughter of a hundred earls", except for Hermione, who looks like a cook), his brother Galahad ("Gally"), his daughter Mildred, his sons Freddie and George, and his numerous nieces, nephews, and in-laws inhabit the castle from time to time. For the Threepwood family, and their friends, the castle is forever available for indefinite residence, and is occasionally used as a temporary prison—known as "Devil's Island" or "The Bastille"—for love-struck young men and ladies to calm down.
Emsworth's sister Ann plays the role of châtelaine when we first visit the Castle, in Something Fresh. Following her reign, Lady Constance Keeble acts as châtelaine until she marries American millionaire James Schoonmaker.
Lady Julia Fish is "the iron hand beneath the leather glove", whose son Ronald Fish ("Ronnie") marries a chorus girl named Sue Brown, who is the daughter of the only woman whom Gally ever loved—Dolly Henderson, though Gally insists Sue is not Ronnie's cousin.
The other sisters are: Charlotte, Dora, Florence, Georgiana, Jane, and Diana, the only one that Gally likes (Sunset at Blandings).
Blandings's ever-present butler is Sebastian Beach, with eighteen years service at the castle under his ample belt, and its other domestic servants have at various times included Mrs Twemlow the housekeeper, an under-butler named Merridew, and a number of footmen, such as Charles, Thomas, Stokes, James and Alfred. The chauffeurs Slingsby and Alfred Voules drive the castle's stately Hispano-Suiza, or, in an emergency, the Albatross or the Antelope (Summer Lightning).
Outside of the house, Scottish head gardeners Thorne and Angus McAllister have tended the grounds, while George Cyril Wellbeloved, James Pirbright and the Amazonian Monica Simmons have each in turn taken care of Lord Emsworth's beloved prize pig, Empress of Blandings.
Emsworth has employed a series of secretaries, most notable among them Rupert Baxter, the highly efficient young man who never seems to be able to keep away from Blandings, despite Lord Emsworth's increasingly low opinion of his sanity. He was succeeded in the post by Ronald Psmith, and later by the likes of Hugo Carmody and Monty Bodkin. The castle's splendid library was catalogued, for the first time since 1885, by Eve Halliday.
Many people pass through the doors of Blandings, including guests and friends of the family, prospective additions to the family, temporary staff, pig-lovers, day-trippers, detectives, crooks and of course impostors galore. Among the most distinguished are the grumpy Duke of Dunstable; leading brain-specialist Sir Roderick Glossop; publishing magnate Lord Tilbury; the Fifth Earl of Ickenham, known to all as Uncle Fred; and Percy Pilbeam, head of the Argus Enquiry Agency employed to locate the lost pig and recover Gally's manuscript of his memoirs.
Wodehouse worked on Sunset at Blandings until his death, writing even in his hospital bed. It was unfinished and untitled when he died, and was subsequently edited (by Richard Usborne) and released in its incomplete form with extensive notes on the content.
All nine Blandings short stories were collected together in one volume entitled Lord Emsworth Acts for the Best in 1992.
The Castle and its inhabitants were the subject of six half-hour adaptations under the title Blandings Castle, made by the BBC (also known as The World of Wodehouse series). Adapted from some of the shorts in Blandings Castle and Elsewhere and the classic "The Crime Wave at Blandings", they were broadcast in 1967 and starred Ralph Richardson as Lord Emsworth, Meriel Forbes as Lady Constance, Stanley Holloway as Beach and Derek Nimmo as Freddie. Only extracts from one episode survive ("Lord Emsworth and the Girl Friend"), the series having suffered the fate of being wiped.
In 1995, the BBC, with partners including WGBH Boston, adapted Heavy Weather into a 95-minute TV movie. It was first screened on Christmas Eve 1995 in the UK, and shown in the US by PBS on February 18, 1996. It starred Peter O'Toole as Lord Emsworth, Richard Briers as Gally, Roy Hudd as Beach, Samuel West as Monty Bodkin and Judy Parfitt as Lady Constance. It was directed by Jack Gold with a screenplay by Douglas Livingstone, and was generally well received by fans.
BBC One has produced a new series of six episodes, called Blandings, starring Timothy Spall and Jennifer Saunders which premiered in January 2013. A second series of seven episodes aired in February 2014.