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The Omnibus Edition. Double-decker omnibus.
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Sprawling, Trollopean, quintessentially British novel published in 2015 by GMW Wemyss: the second in the Village Tales series, following on from 2013's Cross And Poppy and followed by 2016's The Day Thou Gavest.

Not to be confused with Evensong of the Meratis Trilogy. Nor with Gail Godwin's Evensong.

It was published in two volumes, Evensong: Nunc Dimittis and Evensong: Te Lucis Ante Terminum, and one Doorstopper omnibus volume. "Omnibus" here meaning "the size of a London bus." For the better amusement of all concerned, the full title of the work is, in a 17th – 18th Century In Which a Trope Is Described pastiche, Evensong: Tales from Beechbourne, Chickmarsh, & the Woolfonts; the same being Village Tales recording the events of some few months in the District, to which are appended a series of recollections of interesting events having to do with the villages and district, their landmarks, and the persons of principal consequence therein, both present and historical. As you might guess, most chapters are succeeded by a chapter of historical (fictional) events in the villages, or short stories of local archaeological digs and the like.

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The Rector, Noel Paddick SSC, and Sher Mirza are an established, handshakes-at-best but every meal together everyday (with a chaperone) Chastity Couple. The weather is appalling: the setting is the period of the 2015 UK floods, after all. Teddy Gates, "the Hipster Chef" and owner of The Woolford House Hotel, is now a newish and naive County Councillor (Lib Dem, of course). Three other councillors – one from each party – have conned him into agreeing a Community-Threatening Construction scheme to run up social housing in his ward: the chocolate-box Woolfonts (Woolfont Magna, Woolfont Parva, Woolfont Crucis, and Woolfont Abbas). That way, the other councillors get credit for their good works … and credit in their own wards for not putting up the social housing in their own backyards.

The crafty Duke of Taunton, the local landed proprietor, a peppery little man descended of a Stuart bastardy, points out that there is no land in the Woolfonts not already scheduled, protected, designated, or otherwise off-limits. But he determines to get Teddy out of his jam all the same. His Saving the Orphanage solution: get back some old Ministry of Defence land and build new, retro-Georgian houses.

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All comes right in the end, but much is changed forever, and not without pain.

As a Doorstopper, is simply bursting with tropes.


Evensong provides examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: The villagers, members of the extended ducal family, servants, the servants and tenants at the duke's other holdings, water-bailiffs, solicitors: a good chunk of the Cast of Thousands get page-time, though not to anything like the extent they do in the succeeding volume.
  • A Death in the Limelight: The Duke's brother.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Averted. The archaeological team led by Professor the Baroness Lacy and Professor Dennis Farnaby are strictly methodical and play by the rules.
  • Affectionate Nickname: The Duke points out to Teddy that people may get a succession of these over the course of their lives, some specific to school, others used only amongst those playing on the same XI, and so on. Which is why, after his Death Equals Redemption decease, the Duke reverts to calling his brother as "Spin," a name he earned as a bowler.
  • Aggressive Categorism: Edmond's besetting sin as an activist.
  • The Alcoholic: Crisp – wait for it – in.
  • All Elections Are Serious Business: It's the runup to the 2015 General Election. Local councillors are auditioning to be Prospective Parliamentary Candidates for the next one. It makes the planning skulduggery a matter of life and death.
  • All Gays Love Theater: Averted, subverted, and lampshaded. Teddy and Edmond named their Clumber spaniel bitches (gifts from the Duke) after Diana Dors and Dame Vera Lynn; the Duke was simply thankful they weren't called "Brighton and Hove." Edmond, though, having spent years in the closet as a footballer despite having always been in fact interested in music, theater, and musical theater, does tend nowadays to go all out and camp it when he feels the urge.
  • All Jews Are Ashkenazi: Averted. The Salmons are not solely Ashkenazim. (Lampshaded far more explicitly still in The Day Thou Gavest.)
  • All-Loving Hero: Father Paddick. In time, perhaps even more so, Father Bohun.
  • Anachronic Order: Flashbacks and interspersed short-story chapters make it so, reaching back to the Neolithic.
  • Anchored Ship: Fr Paddick is a widower who never expected to experience same-sex attraction; but he is after all a priest of the Church of England, and has duties and principles. As does Sher Mirza, who is a devout Muslim, even though he is one who has long known himself to be bisexual and is completely in love with Fr Paddick.
  • Arcadia: With the "et ego" very much in one's face.
  • Arc Words: Variations on, "In country districts, it isn't what is known, it's what is said."
    • And, "Water wears away stone at last." As the preceding volume had an arson in it and this volume has baptismal imagery, baptisms, floods, and the blessing of a new fire engine, one suspects that an elemental theme may be emerging.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Averted and lampshaded – as to the current lot. The second Duke was, however, a complete bastard.
    • The current Duke however has no illusions about his class and family, in which he is something of a sport. They're not evil, but they are, as the Duke reflects:
    "… the most backwoods of peers, the most rustic of gentry, the living arguments in favour of House of Lords reform and, frankly, of a Marxist revolution: kind, bumbling, decent, red-faced, and mostly as stupid as so many owls."
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Edmond tried that when young, pursuing a football career. It didn't take, and a good deal of what's a bit off with Edmond is that he's still reacting to that. Sher was simply discreet about being bi, he was always open about it.
  • The Baby of the Bunch: Literally, Hetty among the ducal family. Among "The Lads," sometimes Teddy, sometimes, despite not being chronologically the youngest, The Breener. It's the charm, in both cases, wot does it.
  • Badass Boast: Everyone gets one. Especially the Duke:
    "In keeping with that oath, providing close OPINT support to HM Forces' Combat Arms in the dangerous places of the world, I have done and lawfully done things you should disapprove and can scarce imagine. And I'd do every one of them again."
    • The Nawab pegs level with the Duke:
    "I'm not a gentleman, Charles, I'm a Nawab! You're damned well not a gentlemen, you're a duke! We are as near to having, and acting on, reasons of state as damn it – and don't give me any bollocks about peers and princes in a modern democracy, you've never let that stop you! What you seem to resent, Charles, is not being the only schemer engaged in scheming!"
    • And Fr Noel Paddick SSC gets one in for the whole of the Church of England, or at least its Anglo-Catholic, Alternative Episcopal Oversight wing:
    "So who are we? We are the Church of England, quiet in our ways, redolent of tea and cakes, yet terrible as an army with banners. … We are called. We are chosen. We are the Church of England. And we shall in Christ prevail with, in, him."
  • Badass Bookworm: Fr Paddick, Fr Bohun, the Duke, the Headmaster, Brigadier the Earl of Maynooth, the Duke's late parents … actually, most of the badasses are learned. And vice-versa.
  • Badass Grandpa: The Duke is still a bit young for that. Hugo, Lord Mallerstang and Swarthfell, cousin to Lady Crispin's late father, however, is unquestionably one: survived a bayonet to the balls and Changi Prison and the Burma Railway after the Fall of Singapore; survived seeing both of his sons, born before the War, killed in action (Malaya and Korea); survived decades as a really, very Impoverished Patrician.... And still on the ball and badass as ever.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: The Duke's tailors are to be congratulated. And of course the clergy wear cassocks and choir dress and vestments....
  • Badass Preacher: The default setting for the C of E – no, really – as well as the Roman Catholic Church. And the Nonconformists. Spiritually and when called upon to be; physically if pushed to it. (The Rector used to box, after all; curate Fr Campion rowed for Keble; incoming curate Fr Bohun is, formally, Retired Badass the Revd Sir Gilbert Bohun Bt MC – yes: Military Cross –, late Major, the Blues and Royals.) And then there are the Sikhs, obviously. Lew Salmon is not to be trifled with, either. And the only Hindus and/or Buddhists in the District (there's a lot of syncretism with this particular group) are retired Gurkhas. So.... If you want a near-pacifist in the Woolfonts … send over to the Trowbridge masjid for Dr Jettou, the imam. (Whose wife, by the way, is an academic lawyer whose specialism is the law of armed conflict.)
  • Badass Teacher: The Headmaster of the Beechbourne Free School, Jeremy Trulock, was a subaltern. In the Paras. And the retiring Maths master isn't called "Sapper" Seymour for nothing, he having been a decorated Gunner officer. His replacement, "Banksy" Hesketh, is a recently retired Brigadier. There are very few discipline problems at the Free School.
  • Barsetshire: In spades. And very much a modern version of the original, clergy and peers and All That. With the subversion that, as the Rural Dean notes, nowadays, the Church and its crises is regarded as a minority interest of harmless anoraks, "ecclesiastical trainspotters."
    • Also why there are so many badasses around: the setting is Wiltshire, training and operational home of the British Army....
  • Bar Sinister: Averted. Literally, in that the Royal Stuart quarter in the ducal arms … well:
    "… the old quarters of blood and pride. The Stuart Royal Arms, France Modern and England quartering Scotland and Ireland, within a bordure compony of Argent and Azure, the true blue compartments of that bordure bearing each a white and Yorkist rose, a rose Argent barbed and seeded proper: a quarter bare of any bend or baton (unlike that in the first quarter of Rory's Badenoch arms, in which the Stuart Royal Arms in their bordure compony of Gules and Or are further debruised by a baton Argent, marking the celebrated 'double bastardy of Badenoch')...." [Rory is the Marquess of Badenoch, a kinsman of the Duke's.]
  • Basso Profundo: The Duke is very short, very trim, and practically an oktavist.
  • Battle Butler: The Duke's butler, Viney – Mister Viney to you, unless you're the Duke or his family – and indeed all the staff at Wolfdown House. Viney's the other churchwarden (with the Duke), Vice-Captain (with the Duke) of the Woolfonts Combined XI, the overall XO for everything, and runs rings around the local constabulary for intel and investigation. As the Duke says, 'I haven't a network of informers, really, I've a staff' – and the Duke was an Intelligence Corps officer at the sharp end in Iraq and Afghanistan. Viney's less a Battle Butler than a Battle Bunter.
  • Bear Hug: Teddy is a hugger. The Duke does not care for it.
  • Beware the Nice Ones / Beware the Quiet Ones: Any Good Shepherd is hell unleashed on predators, after all.
  • Big Band: The Duke's point of contact with pop is Northern Soul. (Well, that and The Kinks.) He prefers swing to pop, and classical music to swing. The tenant's dance at Clentwood, his Worcestershire property, is however a Big Band extravaganza. He warns Sher that he'd best brush up his Basie: after all, the Duke must dance with the Cook at Clentwood, who is, after all, Mrs Woodside. But don't bother with Ellington: "too many dukes."
  • Big Brother Instinct: The Duke to Crispin; Rupert and Jamie, his nephews and Cripsin's sons, to their little sister Hetty (Henrietta Maria); Sher to his sisters; Sher's father Alam to his sister, the Nawab's Begum … it's pretty much universal.
  • Big Eater: Brian "The Breener" Maguire. His wife the Hon. Gwen knows how he works it off and never gains an ounce, but of course doesn't tell. They're having twins, if that gives you hint. Good People Have Good Sex.) Fr Paddick, who trains rigorously, tries to keep up with his housekeeper's mothering, but.... And Fr Campion, so recently a Keble rugger-bugger, can match The Breener at any table.
  • Big Fancy House: Well, yes. Wolfdown (and its Dower House), Tidnock, Clentwood, Melverley, Luineag, Castle Camserney.... The Duke's a duke. As his is cousin the Duke of Trowbridge nearby at Littlecompte House. For that matter, even the rectories and vicarages were built in a more opulent age (mostly Georgian). And all of them lovingly described.
  • Big, Friendly Dog: By spaniel standards, the ducal Clumbers; at his other properties, Otterhounds, Welsh Springer Spaniels, and so on. The duke having given Clumbers to all his acquaintance, the other major characters have large amiable canines as well; and Lady Crispin breeds Bassets and Old English Sheepdogs. The servants sigh, and clean up the drool and the muddy pawprints.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Greek, Latin, French, Urdu, jurisprudential Arabic, Welsh.... Chock full, really.
  • Birth/Death Juxtaposition: Because it's Truth in Television and this is a determinedly realistic series. The Maguire Twins arrive not long after Lord Crispin's death and funeral.
  • Bi the Way: Sher, though it's a moot point nowadays; Lord Crispin; and, to general surprise, set up in this volume and detonated in the next, Professor Farnaby.
  • Black Sheep: Crispin, of course.
  • Blue Blood: Well, obviously. The Duke, his family, his sister-in-law, Hugo Mallerstang, Sir Thomas Douty, Professor Millicent Lacy (a life peeress, but a Lacy by birth), and indeed Fr Bohun.
  • Boy Band: Niece Hetty is a Directioner. And the scratch group of singers for village concerts and charity recordings, "The Fonts," consisting of Edmond (who gave up showtunes for football and the closet), Teddy (who was In A Band at school), The Breener (Schola Cantorum at Downside with the future Mgr Folan), Fr Paddick (boy chorister who now, heh, heh, sings for his (ecclesiastical) living), and Sher (English and Music master at the Free School, organist, composer, M.Mus., ARCO, and with a diploma in Choir Directing), with the Duke as Basso Profundo, are regarded by Hetty as her boyband heroes ten or fifteen years on (bar her uncle the Duke). It's a Running Gag.
  • Break the Haughty: For certain values of "haughty," Crispin as penitent, The Duke and Lady Crispin on Crispin's death, and Edmond after a serious quarrel with Sher and Teddy.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Teddy and Edmond seem to thrive on these until they don't, and stop doing it. The resulting making-up has led too many friends and neighbors to see far too much.
  • British Stuffiness: Zigzagged all over the place. Lady Crispin and Lady Douty overqualify, to the point of iciness. The Duke is far too grand and far too great an aristocrat to concern himself with such mores. Sher, and still more his family, and especially his uncle the Nawab, are ''very'' correct, as a rule.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Same-sex (and chastely celibate) version with Sher and Noel. Sher does tend to work the Tortured Artist vibe at times. May, if Ship Tease were ever true, become something of the same thing for the Duke and Millicent Lacy.
  • Brutal Honesty: Only charity stays clerical plain-speaking, and even then, Fr Noel Paddick does eventually drive home some home truths to Snook the sexton. As for the Duke, and Lady Crispin, it's their default setting, though the Duke will suppress it for strategic reasons on occasion.
  • But I Would Really Enjoy It: Neither Sher nor Noel is under any illusions: in addition to being the one living person each would like to wake up with and live with and love, they are well aware they'd have "a ridiculous amount of fun in bed." They're still not going to.
    • Lampshaded when Sher has had enough of Edmond's Shipper on Deck nagging, and the accusation he doesn't want Noel enough to gut up and do something about it. He gives (we are told) an icy, precise, pornographically detailed of everything he'd like Noel to do to him and vice versa, and watches Edmond squirm.
  • But Not Too Bi: Averted. As long as no one does anything in the street to frighten the horses, it's simply a fact equivalent to hair color, and the story is unflinching in depicting bisexuals (and pansexuals, and gays, and lesbians) as being Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • But Not Too Gay: Averted as above.
  • Camp Gay: Edmond, when he chooses, or wishes to be all In Your Face.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: The Rector, Teddy, Edmond, The Breener, Sher, the ducal nephews….
  • The Cavalier Years: An oft-referenced part of the backstory, and still affecting village relationships unto this day. Obviously a considerable element in the Fitzjames history.
  • Chastity Couple: Sher and Noel. One is the only devout Muslim in Britain to also be, as a musicologist, an expert on Anglican church and choral music; the other is the Rector, a widower who'd never thought himself particularly bisexual. They love each other, but God and honor come first.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Is very well-stocked. It's a safe bet that, by the end or, better, in a book or two, yer actual Cow Tools will turn out to be part of the arsenal.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Averted good and hard. Monsignor Folan, of Our Lady and S Edith of Wilton in Beechbourne, has a (smallish) congregation; there are Nonconformists in plenty; but so far as there is any active Christianity in the District, it is, as By Law Established, by far predominately Church of England.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The Duke. Naturally.
  • Commitment Issues: The Duke. When his father was an Impoverished Patrician and comparatively broke brigadier, the future Duke could not get a date. When he suddenly became a courtesy marquess, heir to a dukedom, and rolling in money.... He donned the Jade-Colored Glasses and has yet to doff them.
  • Community-Threatening Construction / Saving the Orphanage: The prospect of council housing in a scheduled "heritage" area in which even the sheds are Grade II* or better.
  • The Confidant: Noel both personally and by virtue of his calling, to everyone. The big MacGuffin has to do with the Duke's having become Crispin's.
  • Cool Car: The ducal Bristols. And the Rovers, kitted out as shooting brakes, which he hands out to all the local clergy of every faith and denomination so they need never miss a deathbed whatever the weather.
  • Cool Old Guy: The Duke isn't quite old enough. Yet. The Dean is. So is Lord Mallerstang.
  • Cool Old Lady: Lady Agatha, for one. Flora, Dowager Countess of Freuchie, for another.
  • Cool Teacher: They seem to breed them at the Free School, but of course Sher is first among equals.
  • Cool Train: The rolling stock, and particularly the locomotives, of the Woolfonts & Chickmarsh Railway in the Village Tales series are these: traditional-seeming steam … which His Grace the Duke of Taunton got designed by the Swiss at DLM … with contributions from James Dyson, Phil Girdlestone, and James May.
  • Cool Uncle: The Nawab to Sher. The Duke to everyone.
  • Creator Provincialism: And quite unabashed about it. The West Country is the wide focus even in a volume that takes the characters to rural Cheshire, rural Shropshire, and the Clent Hills. The tight focus is on three villages, a hamlet, and the District around them. And to not a few of the characters, Cricket is the most important thing in life.
  • Cultured Badass: The Breener; the clergy; and the Duke, now that he's retired from being a...
  • Cultured Warrior: The Duke was, after all, an Intelligence Corps officer who preferred close OPINT support in the field, attached to Combat Arms, over "faffing about with maps at Brigade." Of course, he is a...
  • Cunning Linguist: … is the Duke. To Omniglot levels. So, for obvious reasons, are the Nawab and Dr Jettou, the local imam (French, English, Arabic, Darija, and Rifian Berber). And the clergy and the gentry all have Latin, Greek, French, and/or German to hand. Teddy, having trained as a chef in France, is bilingual. And the newest residents speak English and Nepali, being retired Gurkhas.
  • Da Chief: The Police and Crime Commissioner, Lachlan Duff-Black, and the Chief Constable, Tommy Labourde. It's their cross to bear that Wiltshire is full of peers, and that in a goodish bit of West Wilts, the local, ducal proprietor thinks he's Batman.
  • The Dead Have Names: And will be given those names, and not forgotten.
    "At the going down of the sun and in the morning / We will remember them."
  • Death Glare: Guess. In addition to the Duke, though, Lady Crispin wields one like an ax; Sher's is a dagger; and when the Rector goes all Church Militant... run and pray.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Averted good and hard. The nearest we get is a debauched one, in his drinking and drugging days: Lord Crispin.
  • Description Cut / Ironic Echo Cut: Sometimes almost simultaneous.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: The Duke, who gets bored easily as a bachelor. And, since becoming a widower, Sir Thomas Douty. This fact has resulted in the restored heritage railway, the community real ale brewery, and a number of other projects on which Sir Tom and the Duke have been the driving forces.
    • Edmond has more than a touch of this – lampshaded by Fr Paddick, to Teddy – in his activism, his football career having been cut short in his prime.
    • Edmond's career until he was injured (by homophobes. Specifically, the terraces, while laid out by a flagrant foul) was: Halifax Town; Leeds United; Hull FC; Manchester City. He holds a grudge. Against Man Utd and their supporters.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: There's a morning conversation between Sher and the Rector along the lines of "this can't happen again" and "my bum hurts" … and a quick pan-out to its being a phone conversation, not in bed. It reads at first like a Ship Tease, not to say gay-baiting, until it's revealed as having been the result of the Rector's having fallen on top of Sher on some loose scree in a ramble led by the Duke … and (check your guns at the door, Mr. Chekhov) sets up the Rector's increasing balance problems as a symptom of his Roemheld-Techlenburg-Ceconi-Syndrome, a major plot point. So: no, they didn't. To the in-universe disappointment of most.
  • Disappeared Dad: Lord Crispin, of course.
  • Dispense with the Pleasantries: The Duke's default setting save with Royalty or his social inferiors. If he becomes suddenly affable, have your affairs in order.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Formerly a mild ducal dissipation. Until forbidden by....
  • Doctor's Orders: Which the Duke is under after his heart attack and triple bypass and which the Rector is under after his Roemheld-Techlenburg-Ceconi-Syndrome is diagnosed.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Quite literally in the case of Mr. (Paul) Viney, the Duke's butler. When the Duke addresses him as "Paul," it means he's speaking as churchwarden to churchwarden, or as captain of the District XI to his vice-captain.
    • Relatedly, Dame Sarah Penruddock, who chairs the planning committee, insists on "Madam Chairwoman," as she is not a piece of furniture.
    • There are those allowed and encouraged to call the Duke by his Christian name of "Charles." Old Etonians of his vintage call him "Tempers," as he was Lord Templecombe at school as his father's heir, as do fellow old Oxonians. Cross him, though, and it's "You call me 'Your Grace,' damn you."
    • Likewise, old Eton and Oxford contemporaries call the Nawab, "Nobby." Only those on the Eton 1st XI and Oxford Authentics and Oxford Blues 1st Elevens were ever allowed to call him "Tigger." Almost no one calls him by his forename.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: The Duke conscientiously tries to warn people. But do they listen? Do they, hell.
    • Father Noel Paddick's rectorial version is, basically, "I beseech you, look to your soul." It is not he who threatens, after all....
  • Drama Queen: Edmond. Sher has a strong tendency that way as well, and so, in a frightfully aristocratic way, does Lady Crispin on occasion, usually to try (try) to manipulate her children.
  • Drink Order: It's The West Country. Duke or dustman, you'd best be able to hold your cider and your real ale. Otherwise, unto the very tea choices, let alone the wine, brandy, port, and whisky, it's all a matter of class and background.
    • The Nawab, for obvious reasons, is apparently fond of dandelion-and-burdock.
  • Determinator: Every character in the book has Strong Principles and an inability to give up. Particularly the Rector and the Duke. Which is fine when they agree; otherwise….
  • Drives Like Crazy: The Duke is described as being Stirling Moss in a Bristol – on a C road. It's also asserted that Richard Hammond is his spirit animal.
  • Dr. Jerk: Dr Emily Witchard's bedside manner is … bracing. And dispenses with pleasantries.
  • The Dutiful Son / The Reliable One: Sher's attempt to be one is what drove him to drink. And of course the Duke is this as against Crispin.
  • Eagleland: The first named and individual Americans in the series appear in this volume: Mixed examples, tending strongly towards Type I. One is a retired US diplomat who's a Maryland Steuart on one side and an FFV on the other, and quietly attends Crispin's funeral. The other, who gets a whole Short Story chapter, is Lucille Vincent, widow of Cordman T. Vincent IV: a perfectly nice PBS-supporting, English-ancestor-hunting, guidebook-reading, New York Times-subscribing lady of a certain age who comes in for only the gentlest and most unspoken teasing.
    • She gets a narrative comparison and Shout-Out to the sort of American abroad Henry James tended to trade in. But, as she mistakes the Rector, who's in gardening kit and doing the jobs Snook the Sexton won't do, for a sexy working man, and in any case thinks he is the sexton and mentions him as such to Fr Campion, it sets up the payoff, another Shout-Out: after she leaves, Fr C finds his Rector weeding the churchyard, determines that he never told the Widow Vincent who he was before sending her to consult Fr C, and …
    "'… well, Father. You'll find it in the Gospel according to S John, the Twentieth Chapter, beginning at the fifteenth verse.' … ''Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away."'
    • The Duke, who spent a few long vacs in the US when his father the Brigadier, before succeeding as duke, was liaising, is on record as "liking the sort of [Type I] Americans the Guardian loathes, and contrariwise."
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Lampshaded in the Duke's remarks on nicknames, to Teddy. (Teddy at school was known as "Banging" Gates, being pansexual and a bit of a goer; whether this embarrassed him is another question.)
    • The cricket-only nickname of "Tigger" for the Nawab is an apparent subversion, It's nothing to do with the Hundred Acre Wood, but comes from the nickname of "Tiger" borne by the great Indian Muslim cricketer, "Tiger" Pataudi, the 9th Nawab of Pataudi.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Sher, of course. And to an almost equal extent, the Rector.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: With Rugged Scar: After his heart attack and bypass, the Duke is even less inclined to wear open collars.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Subverted as to Mr. Kellow down the Boar. Mostly true of the Dean and the Archdeacon. Absolutely true of the Warden of All Souls, the Dean of Christ Church, and the unfortunate Provost of Oriel.
  • Everyone Is Christian at Christmas: Averted. Remembrance Sunday is another matter.
  • Everyone's Baby Sister: The Duke's niece, Hetty. And she trades on it.
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: Well, everything is louder with the pipes, even in rural Wilts. Including funerals (although Amazing Freaking Grace was not played): namely, that of Lord Crispin, brother to the Duke of Taunton, they being descended of a Stuart royal bastardy. Old Rory, marquess of Badenoch, has his own personal piper (as does the Duke: one at Luineag, and one at Camserney, his properties in Scotland).
  • Experimental Archeology: The archaeological team are quite comfortable with it. Some of them knap flint for fun.
  • Famed In-Story: Look, they're a bunch of badasses (many of them titled), scholars, and saints. Of course everyone who matters has heard of them. In-universe, there's even a Woolfonts fandom and associated Tumblrs.
  • Family Theme Naming: The Duke's family are Stuarts by descent. Wherefore Charles, Rupert, James, Henrietta Maria....
    • The Methwolds, Lords Breckland and Swaffham, began their rise under the Tudors. They did very well for themselves, later, by marrying the illegtimate daughters or the daughters of those daughters in Hanoverian times. Result: plenty of Georges and George Augustuses.
  • Fangirl: That, Hetty is. She's about thirteen as the series begins; it's normal. Embarrassing to everyone else, and perhaps to her in a few years, but normal.
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: Subverted. Edmond, and for that matter the Duke, simply doesn't give a damn.
  • Fictional Document: As the MacGuffin, Crispin's unexpurgated memoirs. The Duke, to the unease and astonishment of the rest of the hereditary peerage, is a biographer and historian (Archbishop Laud and Honour (Duff Cooper Prize); Rose and Laurel; Sir John, God Save You: a life of Betjeman; Beating the Bounds: the Wiltshire and Dorset Clubmen in 1645 (Wolfson Prize); Steam in Sacrifice: Operation Herrick; &c). The Rector has published on the Wesleys as Anglo-Catholics, and essays on free will and theodicy, the problem of evil. Sher Mirza is a composer (e.g., Bach in Euanthia: Twelve Canons and Fugues upon the Seikilos Epitaph).
    • Equally, there are plenty of historic editions (and fictional Vermeers and Rubens paintings and all sorts of art objects) strewn about at the ducal properties.
    • And then there are historical fictional documents: Johnson to Boswell, a letter from Addison, two poems by Pope, Wordsworth, Gray, Coleridge.... And the manor rolls, and the court leet records, and an account from the 15th Century wool trade – it goes on. And Betjeman was, In-Universe, after all one of the Duke’s godfathers, so....
  • Fiery Redhead: Lady Crispin, when not icy. Subverted as to Mgr Folan.
  • First-Name Basis: If Charles, Duke of Taunton, likes you....
  • Flashback: Also with Historical Fiction: Ohhh yeah. Sometimes in flashback chapters, sometimes in current ones as the archaeological team gets to work. Chalk horses, monastic foundations, market charters, Anglo-Saxon renamings of the landscape, Iron Age hillforts, the descent of local families, the names on the War Memorial, how the bakers in Beechbourne have held on since before Magna Carta. It's a pretty good and subtle course in English history even as it drives the plot.
    • The Duke isn't about to allow development or uncontrolled social housing in the District. Having tame archaeologists find a new henge or another Roman villa would answer his purposes nicely.
  • Foil: Oh, everyone has at least one. And, ahem, fences with them endlessly. There's the Rector and Canon Potecary, the Duke and everyone (not excluding the front benches of all parties), Edmond and Sher, the Nawab, his Begum, his brother-in-law, and the Duke....
  • Food Porn: As long as there's also drink, yes.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Points if you guessed Crispin and the Duke.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: While playing in the Premier League, Edmond was outed one morning by the tabloids. That didn't end his career. The flagrant foul on him in the afternoon's city derby match, and the things pelted at him from the terraces, did. He holds a grudge the size of Wales.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: The Duke may forgive. He does not forget. Fr Paddick and all the clergy forgive and forget. Sher and Edmond essentially do neither, though they try as to their friends. Lady Crispin flatly does neither. Ever.
  • Forgiveness: The clergy are good at this – if penitence and amendment of life precedes it. Other people, not so much.
  • The Four Loves: The primary element in the narrativium.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Edmond, all too often.
  • Freudian Excuse: These are not accepted in the Woolfonts. Clear as a lampshade about that.
  • Friend to All Children: The Breener and the Hon. Gwen, the Duke, the clergy; and, with clear eyes and stern principles, Old Miss Hart at the sweet shop. Sher and the Headmaster are fair, just, and kind to their pupils, but they've been teaching too long to fall for this trope.
  • Funetik Aksent: Largely avoided; justified as to The Breener, whose TMS and lecture circuit shtick this is and who lampshades it himself as his "Plastic Paddy charm" turn, and Mr Kellow down the Boar, who's spent so long playing the West Country publican the tourists expect that he is now incapable of not sounding like a Wurzel.
  • Gayngst: Defiantly averted. Even by Edmond.
  • Genius Bruiser: The Breener, though he'll never admit the "genius" part.
    • A man who kept wicket for England, Misses Nothing.
  • Gentle Giant: Fr Campion, that "Keble rugger-bugger called mysteriously to the cure of souls."
    • And, so long as you behave yourself, Mr Kellow, landlord and Sole Prop. of the Blue Boar.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Fr Paddick, although of unashamedly working class origins Sher, too. The Duke … is a scholar. And we may leave it at that.
  • Ghibli Hills: In legend, and in the Middle Ages and before, many a barrow, gull cave, wood, and hill-fort. The Duke is impatient of such legends.
    • So is Professor Lacy. When the archaeological team are discussing Wodewough Wood and the medieval records showing how many sheep were lost there, no one attributes it to the British version of Bigfoot; but it is Lady Lacy who points out that, for robbers and outlaws without deer to poach, mutton is an acceptable substitute.
  • Go and Sin No More: Er. Would you believe the clergy are prone to this?
  • Good Is Not Dumb: In fact, you have to be pretty stupid to be evil in the Woolfonts. Especially when the good went to Oxford. If Senior Civil Servants and powerful politicians can't manage it, why would anyone else think they can?
    "Pull the other one, it has a ring of six on it."
  • Good Is Not Soft: So, punk, you want to cross the Duke, or, worse, yet, the Rector? Go ahead. Make their days.
    • Except in matters of state, even the Duke bows to his Rector's authority on matters of ethics and morals. And the Rector is so nice, at that.
  • Good Old Ways: The Duke, explicitly and with a lampshade on, is in principle a Thatcherite believer in free men, free minds, and free markets. His heart however is in bluntly lampshaded favor of Tory paternalism and neo-feudalism.
    • As the parishes are under Alternative Episcopal Oversight and hew to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, this trope also applies to them, their vestries, and their clergy.
  • Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Blanchard the surgeon, Dr Witchard, and Dr Lee do not believe the former exists. Least of all for heart patients. Nevertheless, the Duke misses his pipe and occasional after-dinner cigar, and cannot be persuaded not to substitute (nasal) snuff for them.
  • Grande Dame: Lady Crispin is getting there as she ages into it; as is the Begum. Lady Agatha and Flora, Dowager of Freuchie, and the late Lady Douty, are or were there already and out the other side.
  • Gratuitous French: Bien sur. Although in the Jettous' case, it's not precisely gratuitous.
  • Gratuitous Greek: Theologians, check; Old Etonians, check... And the Duke persuades Sher to compose variations on the music for the Seikilos Epitaph – after translating it sarcastically.
  • Gratuitous Latin: Inscriptions on church bells; memorials; monuments; any old Fictional Document; the names of the villages.... And of course the C of E clergy know Latin (and Greek, and Hebrew), as, obviously, does the RC padre in Beechbourne, Monsignor Folan; and the Duke is a Classicist, being an Eton-and-Oxford man of the old breed.
  • Has a Type:
    • As several characters incessantly point out, Sher looks, by chance, a good deal like Noel's late wife.
    • And there's a tendency, equally lampshaded, in Sher's family, of marrying an English Rose.
  • Hates Being Touched: Survey says...
    "… do not hug me, damn you, you hypertrophied octopod! Put me down at once! I've a precarious enough hold on my damned ducal dignity as is, Tedders, you really mustn't do these things, curse you.''
    • And that, mind you, as they are preparing for Lord Crispin's funeral.
  • Hates Small Talk: The Duke himself notes that he combines the characters of Peel and Wellington by having neither manners nor small talk. And by "notes," he seems to mean, "prides himself on."
  • Hat of Authority:
    • The local plods have these. And the bishop. But if you see athletic young men in cassocks and birettas or Canterbury caps, you'd best be on your best behavior.
    • And though Teddy prefers headbands, being The Hipsta Chef, when he is wearing a toque blanche, he is very much Chef Gates, and don't you forget it.
  • The Hero: Possibly the villages as a whole. No one of the characters quite fits – and several of them would doubtless argue that they don't fit.
  • Heroic BSoD: The Duke has one. At decibels which would ground a Concorde.
    • It's not so much that his only sibling has just died, it's the incessant, hackneyed condolences.
  • Hidden Depths: Everyone. Smarter or more powerful or less innocent or more nuanced than they look, and most of them have what they and only they refuse to consider a Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Hipster: Subverted. Teddy was dubbed, early on, "The Hipster Chef," and has never gotten over it, even though it was never really true. Which is incredibly un-hip.
  • Historical Domain Character: Practically everyone of any importance. Grey, Disraeli, Wellington, Mrs Thatcher, Churchill, Caxton, Inigo Jones.... Justified in that a ducal family around since the Restoration is going to have known a lot of important people.
    • And the Duke is as he is because (In-Universe) Alec Clifton-Taylor was a friend of his mum's and Sir John Betjeman was one of his godfathers. He still has the stuffed bear to prove it, too.
    • Which explains why his instructions for the new build are, in so many words, Neo-Georgian, and mind you make it something Betjeman and Alec Clifton-Taylor would have approved of.
  • Historical Fiction: Ohhh yeah. Sometimes in flashback chapters, sometimes in current ones as the archaeological team gets to work. Chalk horses, monastic foundations, market charters, Anglo-Saxon renamings of the landscape, Iron Age hillforts, the descent of local families, the names on the War Memorial, how the bakers in Beechbourne have held on since before Magna Carta. It's a pretty good and subtle course in English history even as it drives the plot.
    • The Duke isn't about to allow development or uncontrolled social housing in the District. Having tame archaeologists find a new henge or another Roman villa would answer his purposes nicely.
  • Foil: Oh, everyone has at least one. And, ahem, fences with them endlessly. There's the Rector and Canon Potecary, the Duke and everyone (not excluding the front benches of all parties), Edmond and Sher, the Nawab, his Begum, his brother-in-law, and the Duke....
  • Historical In-Joke: Plenty. For example, the suggestion that the reason why Benjamin Disraeli's "favorite flower" was said to be the primrose ("Primrose" is the family name of the Earls of Rosebery, one of whom was Prime Minister some years after Dizzy was), had to do with the bisexuality of both men, and, in effect, "someone had tell Queen Victoria something True But Misleading."
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Averted The Duke has a very authentic one.
    • In fact, a major case of Shown Their Work. The author acknowledges in the Afterword that he pestered his publishing partner and nonfiction co-author for details on what it actually feels like to have an infarct and a triple bypass. Which resulted in that co-author's then taking the information elicited and publishing a sardonic medical memoir of, yes, what it actually feels like to have an infarct and a triple bypass.
  • Hollywood History: Also Politically Correct History: Averted, quite forcibly. There's plenty of history still affecting the architecture, the villages, and the mindsets of the characters, but it's not sanitized. Including ...
    • The Conquest: The Woolfonts and District are the old Malet Honour. The Malets were the kinsmen of the Real Life William Malet who was one of the Conqueror's recorded companions at Hastings. Frances Malet was the mistress who bore the 1st Duke to James II.
    • The English Civil War and The Cavalier Years: How the dukedom began. James II had a bastard in exile during the Cromwellian Interregnum, you see.... And the war's effects are often referred to, not least as regards church interiors.
    • The Gulf War: The first occasion on which Major Lord Templecombe, later the current Duke of Taunton, was Mentioned in Despatches.
    • The '15 and the '45: The Trimmer – the second Duke – flourished in these, Magnificent Bastard as he was.
    • Irish affairs: And all the whole tangled history of Ireland and the UK, as The Breener will tell you. Calverstown House, now owned by the duke's cousin Brigadier the Earl of Maynooth, still stands only because it was a Taunton Fitzjames and then a Maynooth holding:
    "As landlords, the masters of Calverstown House had so comported themselves as to have never given a handle to the Land League. Even in 1798, the Stuart connexion had stayed the hands of the United Irishmen; and, as Charles had once put it, 'In 1922, when the Nationalists came to burn the place, they found themselves balked by the fact they'd chosen the night Maynooth'd had the Archbishop to dine – and hold a service, it being 13 July, for the repose of the soul of Henry Cardinal York, or Henry 9th if you're a Jacobite … of course, it didn't hurt that the Lady Maynooth of the day was a TD, a Member of the Dáil'."
    • The Partition of India: Why the Nawabs of Hubli (which is in India) are, being Muslim, now British Pakistanis. The current Nawab, who wasn't even born then, is still pissed off by it.
    • The Raj: Flashbacks and backstory. There was actually a runaway match between one of the Nawab's family in those days and a mutual ancestor both of the Duke and of Lady Crispin.
      • Which, as the Nawab gleefully points out to chippy diversity types at Oxbridge, makes Rupert and James Desi.
    • The Wars of the Roses: Still affecting local parochialism, and responsible for some of the local archaeology.
    • The War on Terror: In which the Duke returned to service and got his second Mention in Despatches. While he was away, Crispin cocked up the estates.
    • The Great War: In which the 9th Duke died without a successor, leaving the Woolfonts under trustees in suspended animation until, sixty years later, a successor emerged. It explains a lot about the place; and
    • The Second World War: Wolfdown escaped destructive commandeering by becoming a Staff HQ among other things. (There's a reason it has an Eisenhower Room.) And the Second World War WAAF barracks are the only site in the District, if clawed back from the Ministry of Defence, where new social housing can go....
    • The Korean War: In which the previous Duke served and got his step to Brigadier. That Snook the sexton served in Korea is the only reason he's been kept on as sexton.
  • Honorary Uncle: The ancient but sharp Lord Mallerstang, who is in fact the cousin of Lady Crispin's father, a previous Baron Mallerstang and Swarthfell. And the Duke to his godchildren, including the posthumous niece of the Rector's late wife. (The Rector is technically an honorary uncle to her as well.)
  • Horrifying the Horror: There are foreign governments and terrorist organizations, let alone domestic governments and civil servants, who are afraid of the Duke.
    "He had many old friends and old comrades, including – although he was never shy of candid and scathing criticism, as a Candid Friend sometimes indistinguishable from a furious and inimical Inspector-General – in ISI. (He might have been a simple major in his day, but, as a British duke, Charles Taunton felt wholly able to tell the Pakistani PM, Nawaz Sharif, in distinctly bald terms, what that man wanted to be doing, and to give Lieutenant-General Rizwan Akhtar, the ISI Chief, a rocket whenever he saw him – the phrase 'imperium in imperio' came up regularly, as well as, 'with you lot, the actual bloody government's not merely not in full control of the bloody country, they're not in full control of the loos in their own offices, damn it all' – and have him suffer it in silence."
  • Hot Teacher: Sher, of course, being the Sexiest Man in Britain, to the point at which Even the Guys Want Him.
  • The Hunk: Father Paddick. (Sher is more the male-model sort.) Edmond calls him "Vertonghen in vestments;" even the Duke's brother, writing (ostensibly) from the US, compares him to Tom Brady. And he's so damned nice, with it … face it, Fr. Paddick is basically a really sexy Captain Carrot In a Clerical Collar.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Witty fellow, the Duke.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Lord Mallerstang; the Duke, when young; Lady Crispin (which is why she married Lord Crispin), as she says quite frankly:
    "I've been poor; so for that matter has Charles, in his way. But Charles had only to wait for the abeyance to be resolved in his father's favour, and all the accumulated treasures in trust to be dispensed; I had to marry his brother. Oh, yes, he was dazzling, and my head was turned – the little fool that I was – but the fact remains that I should have had in any case to marry someone like Crispin to escape imminent actual, not merely aristocratic, poverty."
  • Innocently Insensitive: Edmond wears blinders when his activism is activated. Fr Bohun calls him on it, on Edmond's own terms:
    "… [Y]ou believe, au fond, something you once incautiously said, that claims of bisexuality were like hire-purchase: "bi now, gay later". Had the wrong people heard you say that, you'd have been pilloried as bi-phobic, and engaging in bi-erasure: would you not. … [And] when you accuse, as you have more than once done, Mr Mirza of using the Quran as a closet, and that sort of remark … you stand in sore danger of being accused: accused, with justice on the face of it, of 'Islamophobia'; when you suggest that his identity as a British Asian, and cultural concerns peculiar to him and his culture, causes him to commit, or motivates him to, a form of dishonesty, you are doing something which, in any other context and in anyone else, you should loudly denounce as racism. If you believed in suppressing 'hate speech', however defined, in the fashion you say you do, your first moral duty'd be to go down to the rozzer-shop and turn yourself in to Sgt Fay."
  • Insatiable Newlyweds: And since: Edmond and Teddy.
  • Insecure Love Interest: The Duke, if Professor the Baroness Lacy is in fact interested, as she seems to be.
  • In-Series Nickname: As noted. And plenty more: Jazz, Jules, Googly, Swaffles, Kit....
    • The Archdeacon had the misfortune to go through prepper, Eton, and Oxford with the Duke, who continues to call him, "Flops."
  • Insufferable Genius: Points if you guessed the Duke. (And points mean prizes!) Partly subverted in that the Duke doesn't really realize why everyone else is acting so thick and pretending they can't keep up.
  • Irish Priest: Zigzagged. Mgr Folan is Irish by descent, but his family's been in Beechbourne since the first drove of Irish pigs went to the Harris Bacon Factory in Calne.
  • Ironic Nickname: The Nawab is not notably a bouncy Tigger.
  • It's All About Me: Edmond is working to curb that tendency. With mixed success.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: The story covers the period from the 2015 floods to and through the General Election. There are a lot of such nights. In fact, the action begins before dawn on one such, as the Rector is doing his press-ups and sit-ups listening to the storm without and to the Shipping Forecast on the Beeb.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: And at ease with his conscience: the reason Sher and the Rector are a Chastity Couple. In a twisted, subversive sort of way, the reason why Lord Crispin left his wife and children, too.
  • The Jeeves: Mr Viney, although a butler rather than a valet.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In-universe, the general judgment on Edmond, and, in many quarters, on the Duke.
  • Jewish Mother: Averted as to Melanie Salmon. Ironically applies to Sher's aunt the Begum.
  • Jumped at the Call: Well, keeps ringing it up, actually. The Duke honestly believes he'd rather have a quiet life; but a bored Duke is a dangerous Duke.
  • Kindly Housekeeper: Mrs Viney at Wolfdown, who, seeing some imperfectly polished silver, wonders if one of the lower servants is ill. And she has nothing on the motherly Rose James at the Rectory, as Sher and Noel can attest.
  • Kindly Vet: Mr Giles Trulock FRCVS, brother to the Headmaster.
  • Large and in Charge: Although giving due ecclesiastical obedience to his superiors, Fr Campion is this to parishioners. And anyone who's had a pint down the Boar will recognize that Mr Kellow fits the trope.
    • Averted with the Duke, who is The Napoleon. ("Generations of tall men thinking it charming in them to marry short women, it had to catch up with us sometime.)"
  • Last-Name Basis: Zigzagged. Servants of course are called appropriately: Mr. or Mrs. or Miss for upper servants, Christian names for footmen, last names for others; the Duke may offer first name terms to the humblest of villagers he approves of, but the public school tradition of nickname-or-surname exerts a powerful pull among equals.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: In a world of Good Shepherd and Retired Badass sorts, this will crop up.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Sher and Edmond, the Duke and Lady Crispin, the Duke and the Bishop, the Duke and the Nawab.... Are you seeing a pattern here?
  • Like a Son to Me: The Duke, obviously, to his nephews (and, with the necessary flip, his niece); but also the Duke to The Breener, Teddy, Sher, the Rector, and even, exasperatedly, Edmond. The Nawab lampshades this to the Duke's face.
    • Equally true of the Nawab to Sher, Hugo Mallerstang to Rupert and James, and the higher clergy to Noel. As the Bishop lost a son early on, and Lord Mallerstang lost both sons and heirs to enemy action, this means a good deal.
    • And ex officio true of all the clergy to all the parishes.
  • Like Reality Unless Noted: Very much front and center. Real time real world events are incorporated throughout, and realism is the keynote.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Runs on this trope – although less so than the next book. And every last one gets at least some characterization.
  • MacGuffin: The planning permission / social housing dogfight; and, all the more, Crispin's unexpurgated memoirs.
  • Maiden Aunt: Lady Agatha. To everyone. No matter how they kick and scream.
    • Emily Lane at The Woolford acts as one to Teddy-and-Edmond and to all the staff; Rose James, the Rectory housekeeper, acts as one universally, but especially to Sher and Noel.
  • Mama Bear: Noel's mum and gran; Emily Mirza, Sher's mum; and Lady Crispin, when roused.
    • And the Hon. Gwen. Before her children are even born.
  • Man Hug: Teddy hands these out like sweets. The Duke doesn't care for them.
    • Subverted when Edmond apologizes to and reconciles with Sher, they exchange hugs absolute, and Noel wraps them both in a bear hug and blesses them.
  • Manly Tears: At Crispin's wake and funeral, the duke's nephews and others are allowed these. Not the Duke, though. Stiff Upper Lip, you know. Until his Heroic BSoD.
  • The Master: Subverted and deconstructed. The heir presumptive (or any heir apparent, should there be one) to any peer with a title in the Scots peerage is The Master of X. In the Duke's case, The Master of Dilton. And Crispin's not evil. And when Crispin dies, the wholly admirable Rupert becomes a Scots "Master."
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Edmond regards all religion as magic-mongering; and doesn't believe in magic. At all. Which gets interesting when they all go to disrupt a local coven's operations and he gets so overwrought he might as well be possessed.
    • The Duke is constrained by law to acknowledge rights of conscience and freedom of worship. But, in the case of a very heterodox coven, he is damned if they've therefore the right to steal other people's sheep for their ceremonies.
    • On a more meta level, Professor Farnaby doesn't believe in magic either, but he can't look at a landscape without wondering if it's sacral. The Duke inevitably argues with him, from the military historian's perspective.
  • Meaningful Name: The Mirza Khans are Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Sher Mirza is leonine (Sher) and princely (Mirza). The Rector is Fr Noel Paddick (lampshaded by Dr Jettou, who jokingly calls him "Père Noël."
    • Come to think of it, Edmond – so spelled due to a refugee Belgian ancestress in 1914 – may have an avatar in The Chronicles of Narnia....
    • The House of Fitzjames are Dukes of Taunton. They were elevated to a dukedom and given Taunton as that title when James II saw off the first Duke's half-brother's coup attempt, the Monmouth Rebellion. Monmouth had proclaimed himself in Somerset. Guess where. The Nawab points this out to Sher and Noel.
    • And then there are Lady Agatha's Prothero-Fanes.
    "[Her] father had commonly been referred to at the Admiralty as 'Pro-Fane' by his exasperated superiors and [her] uncle the bishop had not infrequently been the subject of Chapter puns ringing the changes upon procul este profani."
    • The Christian names of Noel's parents are the same as those of Noel's bishop and the bishop's wife. Of course, like G. K. Chesterton, Noel regards coincidences as "spiritual puns."
    • Nor can one forget the scheming County councillors: Budge; Bugg; and "Chuck it" Smith. The Duke quotes Chesterton on the latter.
  • The Medic: As G.P.s, Dr Witchard and Dr Lee are this to the surgeons at the hospital in Sarum.
  • Middle Child Syndrome: Crispin's children are, in birth order, Rupert, James, and Henrietta Maria. Jamie is at some pains to avert this trope.
  • Moral Myopia: The Duke and Edmond both fall prey to this at times.
  • Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls: Hetty, take a bow.
    • Lady Crispin is appalled. The Duke is simply glad of anything that gets his niece reading and writing. Of course, that's partly because...
  • Most Writers Are Writers: The Duke and the Rector, notably. History and theology, respectively.
    • Not coincidentally, the author's usual nonfiction co-author has written a book, solo, about early Methodism and the early United States. Fr Paddick has written a book about the Wesleys as Anglo-Catholics. Ahem. And they write history together when Wemyss isn't writing this series.
    • The Duke being in some ways insufferable, this may count as Creator Career Self-Deprecation.
  • Motown / Soul: If the series, and this book, had a soundtrack, it would be Northern Soul.
    • Mr Kellow down the Boar was sent all over the country, when young, by his dad, to apprentice in pubs. Including in Wolverhampton and Oop North, where he became a fixture of the Northern Soul scene.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Dusting things is boring. Dusting priceless things you're getting a degree in is not. (A barrister explicitly notes that most of the Duke's servants have special interests in their jobs, and his Servants' Halls are so many S.C.R.s (faculty lounges).)
    • Digging dirt is boring, too. Finding a Roman villa is exciting. And the economic history of three manors is not exciting, until it is.
    • Nor would most people get much out of walking the same stretch of river every day. But to a water bailiff who likes to birdwatch and keep track of voles....
  • The Napoleon: The Duke is "the precise height of Old Father Time at Lord's": 5'4". He's the biggest man in the District in every other sense. He's not short, he's concentrated.
  • Narrative Filigree: Oh, oodles. Mind you, it tends to be camouflage for Chekhov's Armoury.
  • Nephewism: Zigzagged. The Duke is beset with nephews and a niece, but they are by no means second editions of him. And Noel, the widower, is a happy uncle … by a marriage which ended before the niece was conceived.
  • Nice Guy: Sir Thomas Douty, who is, though a baronet, meek and mild (hardly surprising, as his late wife wore the trousers). The Rector is nice: which does not mean thick or weak. In fact, most characters are nice to some degree.
  • Nice Hat: There's a flourish of toppers at Crispin's funeral; more pointedly, the Duke has several nice hats, and the Anglo-Catholic clergy are never without biretta or Canterbury cap.
    • Presumably, The Breener has one of the nicest of all: an England cricket cap, as he was after all capped for England in Test cricket.
  • Nice Jewish Boy: Zigzagged. Lew Salmon, like his uncle Sir Bennett, is nice, Jewish, and male. But they are or were each one more of a mensch.
  • Nice to the Waiter: The Duke is always this. The Rector sees, raises, and calls, with a full house.
  • No Badass to His Valet / No Hero to His Valet: Averted: the Duke and Viney respect one another completely.
  • Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Averted and lampshaded, including with two local sheepfarmers (a gay couple) and two local artisanal weavers (a lesbian couple).
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Mm. Combined with Real Place Background as to, oh, Salisbury and Shaftesbury, it's fairly clear that the Woolfonts are not a million miles from the Teffonts.
  • No Indoor Voice: Unless Horse Guards Parade or any parade ground is "indoors," the Duke qualifies. And doesn't care. Mr Kellow down the pub can also blast artillery into silence when chucking someone out.
  • Nominal Importance: Less averted than utterly disregarded and stomped on viciously.
  • Non-Action Guy: A character who simply does not exist in the Woolfonts. The action may not be physical, but there is really no one in the novel it would be wise to mess with.
  • Non-Idle Rich: The Duke. And Sir Thomas. And the Nawab.
  • No Sense of Humor: Lady Crispin. Still more, Lady Douty.
  • No Sympathy for Grudgeholders: Most characters have lost sympathy for Edmond for most of the book. Rupert calls his mother Lady Crispin out for the same fault, as do others. And ex officio, the Rector is diligent in pointing out that holding grudges is a sin to be repented of.
    • Subverted as to the Duke, who will not tolerate some offenses and will not forget even if – if – he forgives. His reasons are sufficiently compelling to everyone save the clergy that he gets a pass from most characters.
    • And the Nawab makes no bones about it. His theology is not that of the Nasrani, and he is a great prince (titular him no titulars) who sits in judgment on others and answers only to God.
  • Not Good with People: The Duke has learned to fake it when tactically necessary, and is a kindly sort at bottom, but.... Edmond is abysmal at this.
  • Older Than They Look: The Duke, Lady Crispin, the Duke of Trowbridge, Lord Breckland.... Truth in Television even today for the rich and aristocratic. Also true of the hard-training Rector, Fr Campion, Sher, Teddy, Edmond, and The Breener, and most of the sporty sorts.
    • In fact, before the Rector came to the Woolfonts and while Sher was off the wagon, Sher and Kit Trowbridge hooked up, and Sher thought Kit was a decade younger than he in fact was.
  • Old-Fashioned Copper: Sergeant Fay, and in fact the whole of Wiltshire Police (the Duke insists on continuing to call them the County Constabulary): of the Dixon Of Dock Green variety, mind you.
  • Old Retainer: The Wolfdown staff and all ducal servants are close; Rose James at the Rectory though is absolutely this.
  • Old-School Chivalry: Lord Mallerstang, age-appropriately. The Duke has tendencies to this, but isn't fool enough to indulge them completely.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Averted in favor of Anglican chant and every Church of England setting for Mattins and Evensong ever published.
  • Omniglot: There's a reason the Duke was an Int Corps officer.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted to hell and gone. As noted, the Rector's parents and his bishop and that bishop's wife have the same Christian names; there are numerous Toms, Simons, Marys, Emilys, and so on, in all walks of life.
  • One-Word Title: Also a portmantitle, being just a compound word.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Henrietta Maria is simply Hetty, to everyone.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: It generally means a storm is about to break. Particularly when it's the Duke.
  • Oop North: Every member of the Five-Man Band save The Breener (if you count the West Midlands, for Father Noel Paddick, as the North – which it is by West Country standards). A certain amount of mild, Comedy of Manners Hilarity Ensues.
  • Open Secret: "In country districts, it isn't what is known, it's what is said."
  • Opera: While cutting a charity appeal CD, the Duke, being a Basso Profundo, sings a few lines of Sarastro's "In diesen heil'gen Hallen" to, or at, Edmond after Edmond has to apologize for yet another tantrum. Teddy reminds Edmond that he's lucky it wasn't the Commendatore in "Don Giovanni": "Don Giovanni! A cenar teco m'invitasti … e son venuto." And in a nice bit of foreshadowing, the Duke says coolly he's saving that in case his brother Crispin ever comes back home.
  • Orphan's Ordeal: Subverted after Crispin dies with the ducal nephews and nieces, despite Lady Crispin's presence. All the other aspects are there: grief stages, finding a surrogate father figure, learning more than they cared to know about Crispin's past, and so on.
  • Parental Favoritism: Zigzagged. Lady Crispin finds her children all to be too much like their father and their uncle. But at least Hetty is a girl, and the baby.
  • Parental Substitute: Did you guess His Grace the Duke of Taunton? Well done.
  • Pastiche: As it turns out, a historian moonlighting as a novelist can do a convincing job with a 16th Century wool-trader's letter, a magisterial pronouncement from Dr. Johnson, a letter from Addison to Steele, a forgotten elegy by Gray, and a waspish stanza from Alexander Pope.
  • Politically Correct History: With Hollywood History: Averted, quite forcibly. There's plenty of history still affecting the architecture, the villages, and the mindsets of the characters, but it's not sanitized. Including ...
  • Politician Guest Star: The PM; the Chancellor; Frank Field MP; Mrs T in flashback, Boris Johnson – "Al" to the Duke, who was at Eton with him.... Not to mention several Royals, if you count them as politicians.
    • The PM and the Chancellor are not named. In the circumstances, that would be a decidedly unfriendly Lawyer-Friendly Cameo.
    • VV Putin is openly named, in a very unfriendly reference.
  • Portmantitle: Also a One-Word Title, being just a compound word.
  • Princely Young Man: Crispin, in his untitled youth, and, on a humbler level, Teddy Gates at school and Edmond as footballer.
    • Subverted as to Rupert and James, who are too decent and affable and downright, and Sher, who was too shy and introverted.
    • Note that after Lord Crispin dies, Rupert does get a courtesy title as heir presumptive to his ducal uncle, and Sher has by the end of the volume become heir apparent to the heir presumptive to the Nawab.
  • Proper Lady: Lady Crispin, on the cusp of aging into being a Grande Dame. Subverted in that she can be absolutely ghastly to equals. But politely. And in fairness, she is a much-tried woman.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Nawab. All of the ex-Forces sorts. And of course, when the Duke gets his crafty way on the social housing, the new residents qualify: they are after all retired Gurkhas..
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: The straight, non-caricatured version. Applies to, for one, Alam Mirza, Sher's dad; and to Tom Douty. The Nawab and the Duke are too aristocratic to be gentlemen.
  • Racist Grandma: Spear side version in Snook; but – as O.O.C. Is Serious Business – it's a sign of his dementia.
  • Rail Enthusiast: The Duke has a number of anorakish and unexpected hobbies: canals, archaeology, music hall, Northern Soul.... But railways are by far to the fore. He has a scale model of Brunel's GWR, and, now, of the restored Woolfonts & Chickmarsh (steam) Railway, in the Brunel Room at Wolfdown.
    • Most everyone in the Woolfonts has been infected with this madness. The excuse for the Duke's beckoning the Rector's family down was to help with the W&CR; Sir Thomas Douty is co-chairman with the Duke in the railway trust; and so it goes.
    • Subverted a bit in that the Duke's nephew James, being a rower, came down instead with a raging case of canal enthusiast anorakism.
  • Raised Catholic: The Breener. And not unobservant. The Hon. Gwen is Anglican. Mgr Folan and the Rector worked together on this marriage, and the children and their baptism. As Mgr Folan notes, the hierarchy might be RC, but they adored The Breener all the more as a notably Catholic cricketer, and they could always be talked 'round by the Duke: "They did love their lords only a trifle less than they loved Our Lord, reflected Mgr Folan...."
  • R&B: Hellllooo, high-note-singing, Hot Teacher, Cool Teacher, Mr. Fanservice, Even the Guys Want Him Sher.
    • And for old school, there's the Rector singing Jackie Wilson at Village Concerts.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: Fortunately, for the obscurer bits, there are running translations.
  • Real Place Background: The Fire Brigade and Neighbourhood Police Team covering the area are in Tisbury. The Hospital and the Bishop and the Cathedral are in Salisbury. The hospital wards are correctly named. Remoter parts of the District tend to trade more with Gillingham and Shaftesbury than with Warminster and Salisbury. You could find the Woolfonts pretty easily on an Ordnance Survey map.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Duke, surprisingly enough; and assuredly the Headmaster, and the Rector, and the Rural Dean, and even the Archdeacon and the Bishop, and the Chief Constable, and Mr Viney to the Servants' Hall, and – well, there are no unreasonable ones, really.
  • Recovered Addict: Teddy had a coke problem years ago; Edmond and Sher are both recovering alcoholics.
  • Recursive Canon: No, not any of the C of E clergy. But the history of the Ford family bakery in Beechbourne is introduced by the Duke's telling Teddy he must never compete with them, and ends with the Duke answering, "Why not?," by starting the history of ... the Ford family bakery in Beechbourne.
  • Redemption Quest: The Duke's view of what to do with inherited money. Also Crispin's dying arc, and why he left the Duke his memoirs to be passed on to the Yard and the security services.
    • Also what, ironically, drives Edmond's activism, and results from it, too. For Edmond.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Or as it's known locally, the Way of the Duke.
  • Regular Caller: Mr Viney is probably tired of telling His Grace that a crisis has just rung up.
    • Then again, crises are probably afraid to answer the phone for fear the Duke has become bored, and rung them up.
  • Remittance Man: If you're thinking Lord Crispin, you're doing very well.
  • Renaissance Music: Because it can't all be Walton, Sumsion, and Ralph Vaughan Williams at every service.
  • Resigned to the Call: The Duke honestly thinks he is. When he's the one ringing up. Largely to stave off...
  • Rich Boredom: As Sir Thomas Douty observes,
    "… Charles Taunton, being Charles Taunton … well, old Charles should doubtless manage to find – or invoke – a crisis, simply so as to have something to do with his time in solving or averting it. And, reflected Sir Thomas, he'd more than half a mind to help. Even unto creating the crisis."
  • Royalties Heir: Subverted as to the Duke and his family (who are after all descended of Stuart royalty). On the one hand, what pays for all the lands is owning land which has industry on it (including bits of the Thames Gateway) or is London residential property. On the other, in addition to having acquired over the centuries a shipping line and so on, they, and the Maynooths of Calverstown House, make and sell single-malt Scotch from Camserney and Irish whiskey at Calverstown, priced in guineas. And have down since before excise was invented, as a result of a medieval fascination with alchemy. So the distilling recipes and formulae might well count.
  • Rugged Scar: After his heart attack and bypass, the Duke is even less inclined to wear open collars.
  • Scenery Porn: Pages of it.
    "A country of sheep and pasture, wood and rill and the infant Wolfbourne in its cradle, of stone-curlew and skylark and – now, once more, at last – bustard. There were barrows and tumuli amidst the dewponds where sheep cropped; and a great silence. Of Roman antiquities there were few; of non-Roman, post-Roman, there were fewer, where monastic and Malet interests together had given the land over to flock and sheepwalk and the lay brethren with crook and wise dog. Before ever Rome had come, the land had been shaped as much by man as it was going to be, bar a few minor touches after; and cursus and tumulus and henge, fading and crumbling into all that is forgotten and no longer to be discerned, had been more common if slightly less lasting than a ditch here or a ring-fort there. It had always been a place set apart, kept apart, treated as sacred – and sacred to the sheep, on whose woolly backs men lived and prospered and who bore up such prosperity as it had ever known. A lightly-peopled countryside, with wood and copse and pool and barrow walked wide of, and most of all at night."
    • And,
    "In this wide country of sheep on the downs, and fewer men than sheep, beneath illimitable skies, a few ancient, crumbling carvings of the Malet arms might be found, and, newer, mouldering ducal arms, deep-carven, on ancient, superannuated milestones and the piers of unexpected rural bridges which now connected only fields; but the sheep and the stone curlew and the skylark recked nothing of these things, and the folk and their sheepdogs not so very much more."
  • Schedule Fanatic: The Headmaster, for obvious reasons; and the Duke, as a matter of temperament.
  • School Marm: Miss Coombs and Miss Woolley of the village school.
  • Saintly Church: In the books, the C of E; Dr Jettou's masjid in Trowbridge; the Roman Catholic Church; the Nonconformists; Judaism; Sikhism; Nepali Hinduism-with-Buddhist-accretions as followed by Retired Gurkhas; and, for that matter, humanism, agnosticism, irreligion, and atheism. So long as the believers therein observe the Spirit and Laws of Cricket, which may be the real religion for them all.
  • Seen It All: The Duke. (Int Corps, remember?) The Headmaster, as to pupils. Emily Lane at The Woolford (guests.... God help us all). The clergy. And, institutionally, the villages: It's not what everyone knows – and they do know –, it's what everyone kindly refrains from saying.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: James as regards "Cats" (Catherine Lettice Georgiana Carew-Fettiplace-Bourchier-Poyntz), Brigadier Lord Maynooth's niece.
    "'Never in a million years,' gasped Jamie, with every outward sign of utter horror."
  • Shipper on Deck: Hetty as to certain members of her favorite boyband … and their local equivalents, particularly Sher and Noel. In which latter she is joined by nine in ten villagers, who don't see why they must remain a Chastity Couple.
    • Everyone, literally, as to the Duke and Lady Lacy.
    • Rupert as to James and Cats; James as to Rupert and "Bells," Elizabeth Arabella Caroline Grace Grenville-Arundell-Courtenay. Lady Crispin has other ideas as to suitable matches; the Duke … does not.
    • And everyone expects and approves an eventual marriage between Hetty and Mark, Lord Grampound, heir to Lord Treskilling.
    • Subverted as to Sher's sister Ameena and Cousin Tariq. Alam, Emily, and the Nawab are fine with it. Sher is having Big Brother Instinct reservations.
  • Ship Tease: Hetty and Mark Grampound; Ameena and Tariq; Rupe and Bells; the Duke and Lady Lacy.... Even, for those too stubborn to accept the anchor, Sher and Noel.
  • Short Story: Many of the interleaved chapters to the main contemporary narrative: the American tourist hunting ancestors in churchyards, the history of the bakery, laying ghosts, Ben Salmon's backstory....
  • Shout-Out: Echoes, allusions, inversions of Quotable Lines from every English poet…. Eliot and Borges and Pratchett have nothing on this guy.
    • And nobody since Anthony Price has made more shout-outs to Kipling.
    • Lampshaded when the Duke of Taunton is forever complaining that "nobody reads [Classic Author X] nowadays, what in buggery is the country coming to?"….
    • The Duke, when behind the wheel of his Bristol, is said to have Richard Hammond as his spirit animal.
  • Shown Their Work: Medical details, railway schedules, road distances, geology, archaeology, history, economic history.... The names on the War Memorial are local; the liturgy is correct; it's all there.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts / Make-Out Kids: Edmond and Teddy when on good terms, and all the more when making up. Emily Lane, poor woman, as Teddy's executive manager at The Woolford, has, as lampshaded, I’ve Seen Things, Man … You Haven't Seen What I've Seen....
  • Simple, yet Opulent: The Duke – having started (the title was in abeyance and the land and cash in trust until his father was middle-aged) as an Impoverished Patrician who could only dream of being Land Poor – is this in his personal style. When it comes to handing out dosh to others, though, he's very much the Eccentric Millionaire.
  • Sketchy Successor: Crispin, naturally. Until he dies. And averting this is a trial to the Nawab, until he decides on Sher's father.
  • Sliding Scale of Law Enforcement: Largely positive, as to Da Chief and the local, rural bobbies. At worst, county-wide, occasionally ineffective and in one or two instances, owing to worries about possible ex-squaddie yobs moving in to any new social housing (they don't know it's retired Gurkhas), a Noble Bigot with a Badge.
  • Small Reference Pools: Averted
    • Although subverted and lampshaded in-universe as regards one particular threat of crime against which the Duke seeks to mobilize the police, though his failure to do so is his own fault:
    "Certainly a succession of coppers, from the nearest rural Neighbourhood Policing Team to the DCC, had responded with glazed eyes and polite boredom to his extensive citations to the history of this sort of crime from the days of Solon, archon of Athens, to the present (possibly in part because they were not generally fluent in Classical Greek, or indeed in Latin)."
  • Smart People Know Latin: They'd better, in the Woolfonts. Not only is the Duke a Classicist, Fr Paddick tends to quote the Fathers in the original.
  • Smoky Gentlemen's Club: Inevitably, the Duke belongs to a good few, as his biographical entry (another Fictional Document) attests:
    "Clubs: The MCC; Vincent's Club; The In & Out; The Rag; Savage; The Athenaeum; Boodle's; Carlton; Farmers; Flyfishers'; Hurlingham; Oxford and Cambridge; Special Forces; White's...."
  • The Social Expert: Mr Viney and Yeates the valet and First Footman are the arbiters of all matters of rank, hierarchy, and society, and can make or break you at the Duke's word. The raised-by-learned-and-academic-wolves Duke can, when tactically necessary, exert himself as such an expert, but it's clearly a learned skill and it annoys him to do so.
  • Spiritual Successor: Updated and with grit added, to Anthony Trollope, Barbara Pym, and Miss Read. With a touch of P. G. Wodehouse.
  • Spot of Tea: They're British. They swim in it.
  • Standard Police Motto: Averted. The Wiltshire Police are "Primus et Optimus," first and best, and have been since 1839; the Duke sometimes has snarky comments on that when they don't do as he suggests.
  • Stealth Insult: The Duke doesn't mean to, it's just that sometimes those he sets out to insult are too thick to grasp what he said. Particularly if it's not in English.
  • Steam Never Dies: At least not in the Woolfonts. The Woolfonts & Chickmarsh Railway is a roaring success, and everyone is an anorak. Besides, The Rector's father and brothers-in-law (well, his sisters' husbands and the brothers of his late wife) and his late wife's family have all been brought down to work either for the W&CR or for the community real ale brewery which does its Rail Ale scheme, out of sheer Rail Enthusiast devotion.
  • Stern Teacher: Sher can be. The Headmaster is.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: The whole of the ducal family. All the Mirzas. Most of the clergy, for theological reasons. Edmond … not necessarily.
  • The Storyteller: Fr Paddick in his sermons and homilies; the Duke and Lady Lacy and Den Farnaby as scholars; the Nawab on unexpected family history.
  • Straight Gay: Almost every gay (or non-het) character is this. Including Edmond unless he decides to camp it for his own purposes.
    • Yeates the first footman is so much so he finds it hard to pull on holidays away, as he has to first assure the other man that, no, he's not experimenting, and, no, he's not going to have a Big Gay Freakout after doing the deed.
  • Suddenly SHOUTING!: The Duke is not a quiet man by nature. (If he gets very quiet, run away.) But he can flatten trees when he erupts; as in his Heroic BSoD, or its first phase, after Crispin's funeral.
  • Take That!: Where to begin? Scholars take pot-shots at other scholars. The Duke hates and denounces all parties and most politicians, and the whole of the Civil Service, equally, and says so in distinctly bald terms. The Nawab regards the Pakistani government with contempt. And planning committee chairwoman Dame Sarah Penruddocke says, at the public session, that she must explain the procedure very carefully, as that lady novelist has given the public a perverted idea of how planning applications are decided.
    • Although anyone who reads his nonfiction has a fair idea of the author's views, he goes out of his way to give some of the best lines to the Other Side.
  • Talk About the Weather: They're British. In fairness, the weather of the period is appalling.
    "The Duke, on the telephone: "Mornin', Nobby. D' you by any chance care to acquire a slightly used floodplain and a few thousand very wet sheep?""
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Even in the midst of bitter quarrels – Sher and Edmond, say – if an outside threat appears, well....
  • The Teetotaler: Well, there are British Muslims, and one of them a recovering alcoholic, so.... And Edmond, for the latter reason, as well.
  • Theme and Variations: On the Seikilos skolion, as composed by Sher.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Cross the Duke, and it's, "You call me, 'Your Grace';" and unless you are a very senior member of the ducal family, it's Mister Viney to you.
  • Time Skip: Between this book, the preceding volume, and the succeeding volume; and in a early chapters within the book.
  • Tranquil Fury: That's when the Duke is too angry to blow up. Say your prayers.
  • True Companions: The whole lot of them.
  • Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: Truth in Television for academics, hereditary peers, and persons holding Crown Honours and Crown Appointments. Which is a goodish bit of the cast.
    • The Duke in full, by way of example:
    "Charles Arthur Donald Ivor Waldemar Fitzjames-Holles-Clare-Malet KG GCB GCVO KBE M.i.D., Duke of Taunton, Marquess of Templecombe, Earl Fitzwarren, Earl of Dilton, Viscount Malet, Baron Daubeny, Baron Chard, Baron Beechbourne, Baron Marden and Widham; Hereditary Keeper & Constable of S Aldhelm's Castle; Hereditary Ranger of Yarncombe Forest; JP, DL; Privy Counsellor; MA (Oxon); F.R.His.tS.; Fellow of All Souls."
  • Turn the Other Cheek: Lampshaded by the Rector, to whom it is obligatory.
  • Ultimate Authority Mayor: Averted And the Duke takes the planning application fight far beyond the County and its councillors.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension / Will They or Won't They?: Sher and Noel are under considerable outside pressure, not to refrain but to do, and resolve their tension; there's the beginnings of adolescent tension between Hetty and Mark Grampound; and then there's the whole Duke-and-Lady-Lacy stramash....
  • Unwanted Spouse: Lord Crispin and Lady Crispin to one another.
  • The Vicar: Gleefully subverted and deconstructed as to all the clergy, Anglican or otherwise, and non-Christian as well as Christian. Because Good Is Not Soft.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Well, readers are.... You're expected to keep up when there's a sly reference to Betjeman or Eliot or Kipling or British history or Anglican infighting or sub-Roman archaeology. And there will be. On every page. It's not mandatory, but it doubles the number of jokes.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Sher and Edmond, with the added vitriol of being two Yorkshiremen in exile; the Duke and every friend he has, and the Nawab most of all.
  • War Is Glorious: With War Is Hell: The Duke comes of a military family, and was a Major in the Intelligence Corps. He is moreover an historian. He holds both views.
  • War Is Hell: With War Is Glorious: The Duke comes of a military family, and was a Major in the Intelligence Corps. He is moreover an historian. He holds both views.
  • Weather Repor Opening: The beginning of the second chapter, Psalm Preludes:
    There are warnings of gales in all areas...' The natural world has, Father Paddick knew, its own canonical hours; and these also could be aids to contemplation.
    It was a dark, rainy, wind-whining morning, in a year, thus far, of storms;
  • We Used to Be Friends: Sher and Edmond. Partly because Noel's mere arrival shook up the group dynamic between Teddy, Sher, The Breener, and Edmond, and partly because Edmond is far too invested in his own vision of what Sher and Noel should do. They get better.
  • Wine Is Classy: And the ducal cellars are select and extensive.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Rupe and Jamie, having been brought up by an uncle who's a duke, a historian, a cynic, and a Fellow of All Souls.
    • And the Rector at his age has, as Fr Campion notes, no business having that Wise Old Priest's twinkle in his eye.
  • With Due Respect: Proems to run away from really fast. Particularly if the speaker is the Duke. Or Edmond. A fair few fly from all quarters at the planning application hearing.
  • With Friends Like These...: An in-universe response to the bickering between Edmond and Sher … and the Duke and everyone. Especially when he helps – by taking a project over.
  • Xanatos Gambit: The Duke's method at all times.
    • HERE BE A SPOILER: By the time the Duke's done, 1, Teddy's pledge has been redeemed. There is social housing in the ward. For retired Gurkhas. 2, Built by wounded and demobbed soldiers. 3, And the Trust for all this is run by a British Asian, opposing whom is bad politics: Sher's father. 4, Who has had to move down with his family from Leeds, so that Sher's mum can spoil Sher. 5, There will never be any further development in the Woolfonts: not after the archaeological reports are in. 6, And the ecological reports: which also force the Environment Agency to do a U-turn on dredging, and thus prevent further floods. 7, And the cross-party stitch-up against Teddy means that the three scheming councillors will never get to Westminster. 8, The Duke's got the adjoining parishes put in the Woolfonts benefice; 9, requiring that Noel get two further curates and be made a canon, and 10, he's managed to tie the Nawab into his plans as well as 11 got the Nawab to make Alam Mirza and then Sher his successors; 11, he's passed on Crispin's memoirs to the only three trustworthy Privy Counsellors or Counsellors of State in the UK, to use against all enemies … and kept copies of useful revelations. And, 12, incidentally, the Duke has got Hugo Mallerstang's estate back for him. After sixty years. From the National Trust.
    The Nawab to the Duke: "There really are no options in this which do not – your opponents have no options before them which do not – leave you with at least a partial victory."
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Part of the Duke's method.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Averted. The pastiches, and every Fictional Document, are done properly.


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