"Pelham Grenville Wodehouse was a prolific and extremely popular writer of humorous novels. Wodehouse was the son of a Hong Kong civil servant, who retired through ill health and returned to England, firstly to Dulwich and then to Hay's House, Stableford in Shropshire. Young P. G. Wodehouse, although educated away from home at boarding school returned to Stableford for his holidays and grew to know the district well between the ages of fourteen and twenty one (when the family moved again to Cheltenham). He retained a great affection for the county, particularly the area around Stableford, which is a few miles from Bridgnorth, and it was to become one of the major sources for composite settings in the novels, together with Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Wiltshire.
Wodehouse's last, unfinished novel was Sunset at Blandings which Richard Usborne edited in 1978 after the author's death. Usborne followed up all references to Shropshire in the various Wodehouse novels, but especially this last one, and consulted contemporary railway timetables to see if fictional journeys could actually have been made. All this was in an effort to identify and locate the original of Blandings Castle. Usborne's conclusion was that it must be Buildwas, a mile or so up the Severn from Ironbridge.
However, since Usborne's conclusions were published N. T. P. Murphy has come up with a different theory in his fascinating book In Search of Blandings (1981). He concludes, having closely examined all the novels and visited dozens of locations, that Blandings Castle was situated at Weston Park on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border. He qualifies this though, by saying that the actual castle, in his opinion, is Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire, but that the setting of Blandings is based on Weston Park (most of which is in Staffordshire although a section of the park is in Shropshire). His arguments are certainly convincing as he takes us through the other possible locations, such as Morville and Aldenham Hall, and dismisses them. Murphy concedes that Aldenham Hall, with its famous iron gates, was very much in Wodehouse's mind when describing his fictional Matchingham Hall. In the Blandings novels there is much coming and going by train from Market Blandings and Murphy therefore suggests that the small town of Shifnal, on the main railway line from London, fits the bill perfectly.
Of course, the identification of fictional locations is always open to conjecture since writers so often use artistic licence, to say nothing of composite settings. There is little doubt that Wodehouse did know this corner of Shropshire well, so that his fictional Worbury is very likely based on Worfield, Eckleton on the real Ackleton and Bridgeford on Bridgnorth. And it must be more than coincidence that Wodehouse refers to a spot called Badgwick Dingle when a glance at the map shows us that, not far from Stableford, there is Badger Dingle.
Richard Usborne to some extent and N. T. P. Murphy especially, have apparently covered much of the ground in locating the Shropshire connections in the novels of P. G. Wodehouse. Perhaps future investigators of this perennially popular writer's books will come up with further locations and theories; already there seems to be plenty of scope for Wodehouse pilgrimages on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border."