“Actually, it was bloody beautiful. Just around this village it was superb. If Turner and Landseer had met Samuel Palmer in a pub and worked it all out, and then got Stubbs to do the horses, it couldn’t have been better.”
— p. 141
Lower Tadfield is a place in South East England of unspecified location, existing to fill the purpose of a quintessential English village. Tadfield is also notable for being the residence of the Antichrist, Adam Young. It is thus fitting that neither Tadfield nor Lower Tadfield can be found on any Ordnance Survey map published outside Good Omens canon.
However, as the book is littered with geographical references, its position can be roughly inferred. Oxfordshire is mentioned a number of times as the county, and the place is about forty miles from North London (291), and “somewhere south of Oxford” (86). This, along with frequent references to the M40 motorway, suggests a location somewhere in South-Eastern Oxfordshire. These references do suggest that one of Messrs. Pratchett and Gaiman stuck a pin in the map at some point to pinpoint the location, but they have not chosen to reveal it.
The presence of the Antichrist in the village has tended to shape it somewhat. As the opening quote suggests, the village and surrounding countryside is striking, and the area is rich in ley lines (which eventually change position to form a spiral around the village, as Adam grows stronger and inadvertently changes things around him). In addition to the natural beaty, Tadfield has what is known as “optimal microclimate” (218), i.e. “the kind of weather you could set your calendar by”. In general, the area “seems remarkably resistant to change” (219), with anyone inclined to change the village abruptly changing their mind, opting instead to move to Bali or get in touch with their inner cleric. Towards the End, the creatures of the last days (such as burrowing Tibetans and alien traffic police) begin to appear around Tadfield, as a result of Adam’s powers of belief, which are measured in the scale of kiloEverests.
Lower Tadfield is a largely residential area, with few businesses except corner shops, though presumably all small shops you would expect to see in an English village are present. There are two local schools, “soldier[ing] on in blissful immunity from the changing fashions of education” (219), as well as an old-fashioned pig farmer. According to Anathema, the place is “a kids’ paradise” (222). Nevertheless, there appears to be a place to buy hamburgers — possibly because Adam likes them (214). “The only large place is Tadfield Manor” (92), where the Chattering Order of St Beryl had a convent before the Antichrist was born into this world. As the Order had then fulfilled its purpose, it fell apart, leaving the former sister Mary Loquacious (née Hodges) to rebuild the place as a conference and management training center.
Around the area there is some more activity; there is an institute of technology, Norton Polytechnic, in close proximity, where Pepper‘s mother lectures in sociology. (As no Nortons in the United Kingdom have a population numbering in five digits, this may be a joke on the increasing numbers of polytechnics in England. They were renamed universities in 1992, shortly after the book was published.) There is also the Upper Tadfield Air Base, an American air base on which the final events of the Armageddon take place.
The village also hosts a small cottage, Jasmine Cottage, into which Anathema Device moved just before the End. Other inhabitants of the village include R. P. Tyler (an elderly gentleman with a multitude of concerns over practically anything he perceives as a problem in society, as well as a sharp pen and a roundabout manner of speech), the Them and their relatives, a Mrs Henderson, and Greasy Johnson and the Johnsonites.
This being an English hamlet, it has a church, and the local vicar is a Mr Pickersgill. The local newspaper is called the Tadfield Advertiser (18, 316).
Edition referenced in this article: UK Corgi paperback (1991)
Written by Håkon