Gaskell Blog © Katherine C.
Cranford, Milton, Hollingford, they are all fictional towns from Mrs. Gaskell’s works but they’re also all based on real places such as Knutsford and Manchester. But what of the nameless Welsh village in Ruth?
Gaskell does not say exactly where in North Wales we are, but she drops a few hints. Pentrefoelas, according to Mrs. Morgan is not much above seventeen miles from the Inn:
Indeed, sir, Pen tre Voelas [sic] is not above eighteen miles–we only charge for eighteen; it may not be much above seventeen,–and we’re quite full, indeed, more’s the pity.
Later on in the chapter the irritable Mr. Bellingham is teasing Ruth for being so interested in the beauty of the outdoors and is tired of hearing phrases such as:
There’s another cloud coming across Moel Wynn.
Moel Wynn is actually “Moelwyn”and the Meolwynion (plural) are groups of mountains in central Snowdonia, about twenty-two miles from Pentrefoelas.
A search on Google Maps from Pentrefoelas (A) to Moelwyn Snowdonia National Park (B) gives us these images:
We now know the fateful village is somewhere within the radius of the blue line. My instinct is Pen-y-Gwryd, about sixteen miles from Pentrefoelas. It’s close enough to the Moelwynion to have spectacular views and far enough away from Pentrefoelas to make Mrs. Morgan’s estimate of the distance fairly accurate. While there’s no way to know exactly, there is a curious bit of information; the inn at Pen-y-Gwryd was run by a Mrs. Hughes, the widow of a minister, from 1843 – 1847. Remember that name for the next few chapters.
And what of those views that hold no interest to Mr. Bellingham?
- What does Mr. Bellingham’s lack of appreciation for such grandeur in nature tell us of his character?