Denis Stone is on the train to Camlet-on-the-Water. It is a two hour long journey and he is desperate to get off. When he arrives he leaves his luggage to be picked up later and heads out on his bicycle. There is a stream of consciousness of his thoughts about biking and the landscapes, as well as word choice. He arrives at Crome, ready to “take them by surprise.” The house is described as follows: “The façade with its three projecting towers rose precipitously from among the dark trees of the garden. The house basked in full sunlight; the old brick rosily glowed. How ripe and rich it was, how superbly mellow! And at the same time, how austere!”
No one appears to be at home when Denis arrives. He wanders through the house, giving detailed descriptions of each room as he goes. Ten generations have lived there. He finds his own book of poems, which was published six months earlier. Denis is in love with Anne. He finds his hostess, Mrs. Priscilla Wimbush, in her boudoir. Says of her that, “Her voice, her laughter, were deep and masculine. Everything about her was manly.” She is busy doing her horoscopes. Used to be a terrible gambler, lost thousands in the past. Mrs. Wimbush tells Denis she’s invited Mr. Barbecue–Smith, an author, for the next weekend. She reads him a passage and Dennis is unimpressed. They go to see if the tea is ready.
Further description of the house, mostly in terms of it being like a castle – “The terrace in front of the house was a long narrow strip of turf, bounded along its outer edge by a graceful stone balustrade. Two little summer-houses of brick stood at either end. Below the house the ground sloped very steeply away, and the terrace was a remarkably high one; from the balusters to the sloping lawn beneath was a drop of thirty feet.”
Tea is set up outside, with Mr. Henry Wimbush pouring it when Priscilla and Denis arrive. They join the party which includes Jenny Mullion, Mary Bracegirdle, Mr. Scogan, Gombauld, and Anne. Denis sits between Gombauld and Jenny. He fails in his first attempt to converse with Anne. It comes out that he is working on a novel and the talk revolves around literature and artists.
Denis wakes up and considers his appearance for a long time. When he goes down to breakfast most are already finished and he sits with Jenny a short while before he moves on to read the paper. Anne comes down. Four years older than him, he is upset about how she treats him. They go to the garden together. He regrets his education and how it makes him think, while she is ashamed of her lack of education. He talks of philosophy and life. Desperate to tell her his feelings, he can’t get the words out and she leaves to take a bath.
Henry takes Mr. Scogan, Denis, Gombauld, Anne, and Mary to see the farm. Anne is shocked by the talk of killing inefficient animals. Rowley, a laborer, appears. Mr. Wimbush leads the party onto the cowsheds and stables. Gombauld makes a speech about how all women should have many babies. Mary is upset but says nothing.
Mr. Barbecue-Smith, author of inspirational/comforting books, arrives at Crome Yellow. He is described as “a short and corpulent man, with a very large head and no neck.” It is his first time at the house. Priscilla takes them to the garden for tea and introduces him around. Later that evening, Mr. Barbecue-Smith finds Denis playing the piano in the drawing room with no one else around. Informed that Denis is also an author, they talk about writing and Barbecue-Smith brags about how many words he writes an hour. Denis is not impressed or particularly interested in the man. Barbecue-Smith says that it is Inspiration that one needs to write, and that it can be found by going into a trance. His first book was Humble Heroisms.
The chapter begins by detailing the elaborate beds at Crome Yellow. Anne is reading in bed, Mary knocks on the door and enters, says that she is worried about sexual repressions and needs to talk about it. Mary decides that the only thing for it is to get married but that she is not in love with anyone. Denis and Gombauld seen as the two most eligible bachelors for her and she decides that she will “consider them carefully and dispassionately” and decide on one.
Sunday morning breakfast. It is the only time of the week that Priscilla is seen that early. She presides over the meal, reading out items in the paper to the others. Mary has decided on Denis because he seems a safer choice. Mr. Scogan wants to change clergy uniforms as well as military ones. Henry asks who’s going to attend church with him but no one is interested.
Mr. Bodiham is alone in his study at the Rectory. Described as iron-like and harsh, he is just back from preaching. Believes in a vengeful God and wants to shake his congregation to life, angry at them for not seeing life as he does. He goes over a sermon that he had printed four years ago detailing God’s wrath, World War I, and the second coming of Christ. Believes that all of the evils of the world are due to Infidelity, Popery, and False Morality. After reading it over again he believes his argument is still sound, and can’t understand why Armageddon hasn’t come. An unnamed woman delivers an envelope to him. Inside is a catalog of clerical outfits. After flipping through he throws it out in disgust. She tells him that “the village grows worse and worse every day,” and details what has been going on at Crome.