Wellwithoute, the ancestral home of the Dangwell family and the only mock Moghul mansion in Great Britain, set in the midst of the unspoilt Cheetlinshire countryside, is in deep financial trouble. Surrounded by creditors, the bank unwilling to extend its overdraft facilities, the spice businesses upon which the family built its fortune, a distant memory. Lord Frederick Ferdinand Dangwell is at the end of his tether. To add to his woes, her majesty`s government have removed his hereditary peerage and his elder adopted son Gordon, who is something big in the city, is unwilling to risk any of his substantial fortune to save the estate.
Lord Dangwell`s only faint glimmer of hope is that his younger son Harold can somehow be persuaded to marry Veronica, the poetic elder daughter of Lord Rodney Jeremiah Entwisle, the rudest and richest man in Cheetlinshire. Lord Rodney is desperate to rid himself of Veronica who is infecting his wife with literary yearnings, and is prepared to pay a substantial sum to Lord Dangwell if he can successfully arrange a marriage convenient to the two scheming lords. Lord Dangwell`s wife lady Nora, is too preoccupied with her restoration of Wellwithoute`s extensive gardens to take any notice of the financial crisis surrounding the estate. The housekeeper, Cicilly Hindmarsh, whose abuse of the English language is only equalled by her misuse of kitchen implements as she prepares delicious meals for her favourite lord, stands helplessly by as Harold is drawn into his father`s web of intrigue.
Harold Hepelwhite Dangwell is a failed artist with a chequered past and an even more chequered future, who has recently completed an art restoration course and is on the lookout for his first substantial commission. He is inveigled into Entwisle Hall on the pretext of restoring a portrait of one of lord Entwisle`s ancestors. To lord Dangwell`s delight Harold is a hit with both of lord Entwisle`s daughters, but trouble beckons as the sisters jockey for position, the portrait is damaged beyond repair, and Harold is banished from Entwisle Hall seemingly forever.
Against all expectations the picture and Harold`s reputation are restored, and Harold somehow becomes engaged to Veronica Jasmine Entwisle, resolving to go through with the marriage to save the Dangwell estate from financial ruin. Harold`s best friend and best man Chestall Tate, his sister Rosemary, and her two lively twins, disapprove of the match and hatch a scheme to scupper lords Dangwell`s and Entwisle`s carefully laid plans. Following eventful Stag and Hen parties, the drama reaches its climax in the small Norman chapel at Mavis Enderby, presided over by the Reverend Lionel Goodfellow, a born again vicar with high church affectations and a penchant for old religious texts. The wedding ceremony is underway and the Tate family are preparing to disrupt the proceedings when an intervention comes from a most unexpected direction.