“Blaize Castle!” cried Catherine. “What is that’?”
“The finest place in England–
worth going fifty miles at any time to see.”
“What, is it really a castle, an old castle?”
To many readers of Northanger Abbey, Blaise Castle (or as Jane Austen wrote, Blaize Castle) is nothing more than a landmark Catherine failed to visit. Contemporary readers, however, pictured much more. Blaise Castle represented the shallowness and falseness not only of the Thorpes, but of the fiction of the time and the ideas it inspired.
Blaise Castle is a fraud. Built in the 1766 (two years after the release of the spine-chilling Castle of Otranto, the first of the gothic terror stories and a model for Ann Radcliffe’s books, notably, The Mysteries of Udolpho.) it was remodeled in 1796 by Humphrey Repton. Repton’s famous “Red Book” for Blaise Castle -sketches of his suggestions for his clients, with before and after plates, is now the property of the City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.