Stranger than fiction: Geographers home in on Blandings Castle

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The Independent Online

Lord Emsworth would have been befuddled at the discovery. The Empress, his beloved pig, would have settled for a snuffle and an oink.

Two geographers say they have solved a mystery that has intrigued P G Wodehouse fans: the site of Blandings Castle, home of the fictional Clarence, 9th Earl of Emsworth.

Daryl Lloyd and Ian Greatbatch of University College London, who describe Wodehouse as "one of our favourite authors", told the Royal Geographical Society that by using modern computerised systemsthey had pinpointed the most likely places, near the river Severn, 45 minutes' drive (at 1930s speed) from Shrewsbury and with Wrekin visible from the "gardens".

"We know that the skyline he describes is actually based on Cosham Court, which Wodehouse visited as a child; he went ice skating there," said Mr Lloyd. "All the Wodehouse characters and places are amalgamations of places from his childhood."

A number of attempts have previously been made by Wodehouse devotees to locate Blandings. Efforts by one expert, Colonel Cobb, suggested the castle would have been near a town called Buildwas, just west of Telford.

But Mr Greatbatch and Mr Lloyd are confident that the system they have used has got a better fix, a couple of miles south-east of Telford. If it existed now, Blandings would be close to a village called Apley Forge and a wood there known as Spring Coppice.

Next, the duo are considering turning the technique to other famous but unsited locations - such as the hall in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles.

"The trouble is that you don't really enjoy the books when you do this, because you're only reading them for clues about places," Mr Greatbatch conceded. "You don't get the usual pleasure."