Barsetshire is the setting for a novel or series of novels containing one or a few small towns and a lot of countryside. Novels set in a Barsetshire are basically light domestic comedies, though they may have occasional nuggets of melodrama, drama, or even tragedy. Nothing blatantly science-fictional, fantastic, or paranormal takes place (except for the occasional ghost story or local legend related by a character), and any crime or espionage drama is muted and secondary.
In short, you go to Barsetshire for a quiet, relaxing time, in the expectation of being gently amused more than anything else.
A Barsetshire is connected to the real world, and the people can go off and visit London or New York freely, or have visitors or emigrés from such places. Often, real-world history is visible. A Barsetshire is distinct from other fictional towns in mainstream novels by being the setting for a whole series in which the same characters and places appear over and over, though different people may take center stage in any given book.
A Barsetshire may be set within a Fictional Province (usually, as the case of the trope namer, a fictional county), but may also be situated in a quiet corner of a real county.
- The town of Sandford in Hot Fuzz is a pleasant, quiet, low-crime area where everybody's mostly amenable, in a country-England sort of way. The protagonist, who's originally from London, has a lot of trouble fitting in with the town's ways: he's an action movie protagonist trapped in one of these. At least, so it seems.
- The Chronicles of Barsetshire by Anthony Trollope, set in the 19th century:
- The Warden
- Barchester Towers
- Doctor Thorne
- Framley Parsonage
- The Small House at Allington
- The Last Chronicle of Barset
- The Barsetshire novels of Angela Thirkell, set in the first half of the 20th century, including:
- High Rising
- The Demon in the House
- Pomfret Towers
- The Brandons
- Before Lunch
- Cheerfulness Breaks In
- and many more.
- Pretty much every novel written by Jane Austen.
- The Shires, the rural hinterlands immediately surrounding the city of Ankh-Morpork, serve this purpose in the Discworld. These are an explicit reflection of Southern and Western England outside London, and serve as a vehicle for Terry Pratchett to send up every possible literary depiction of Barsetshire that he can cram into the pages of Snuff.
- The Fairacre novels of Miss Read [Dora Jessica Saint], set in the later 20th century and usually narrated by the local schoolteacher.
- What else is The Shire in The Lord of the Rings but a Barsetshire transposed into a fantasy universe?
- The Thrush Green novels of the same Miss Read, set in the later 20th century and usually narrated in the third person.
- The Mitford novels of Jan Karon.
- The training cruiser in the novel We Joined The Navy is HMS Barsetshire
- The fictional island of Sodor from The Railway Series.
- Jilly Cooper's Rutshire novels are set in one of these.
- Nancy Ahtherton's Aunt Dimity series is mostly set in and around the village of Finch and the nearby market town of Upper Deeping, said to be in the Cotswolds. Dimity Westwood's ghost is an ongoing presence, but she is very well-mannered and largely confines herself to her cottage and her journal.
- Thomas Hardy set a lot of his novels in "Wessex", which encompassed a big chunk of the southwestern United Kingdom from Berkshire to Devon.
- Zigzagged in the Village Tales series, beginning with Cross And Poppy. The setting's a lovely bit of countryside and most of the people are charming. Most. But some Serious Things Happen There, as well, from crimes to personal crises to funerals to christenings.
- Felix Holt, a less well-known novel by George Eliot, is set in the fictional "Loamshire". This then had a further life in British Army training materials, which use "Loamshire Regiment" as the name for a generic military unit. The "Loamshire Regiment" was then used as the original military affiliation of Bulldog Drummond and several characters in Evelyn Waugh works.
- The Yorkshire of veterinarian James Herriot's autobiographical All Creatures Great and Small and its sequels.
- Lovejoy hangs his hat in a fictional village in East Anglia, though the white-collar crime rate is a bit higher that normal for Barsetshire.
- The theme-named county of Midsomer Murders seems like one. Considering the murder rate, anyone going there for a quiet, relaxing time is Too Dumb to Live.
- Mercilessly parodied by Craggy Island in Father Ted (it's admittedly an Irish equivalent of this trope).
- Barsetshire resembles the fictional town of Leadworth, hometown of Companions Amy and Rory in Doctor Who.
- Market Shipborough, the setting of Kingdom (2007), is explicitly in Norfolk, but otherwise fits the trope.
- The 1978 TV adaptation of James Herriot's All Creatures Great And Small.
- There is no such place as Dibley, Oxfordshire from The Vicar of Dibley.
- The Archers is set in fictional "Borsetshire".