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During World War II, American reporter Gates Trimble Pomfret is about to leave London for home when he receives a cable from his father in New York, instructing him to sell the ancestral house and acquire the Trimble portrait. Following his father's orders, Gates proceeds to the house at 6 Pomfret Street. As he knocks at the door, German bombs begin to fall and he takes shelter in the cellar of the house. There he sees a plaque proclaiming that Eustace Trimble built the house. After the bombing ends, Gates returns upstairs and meets Lesley Trimble, the current occupant of the house. Lesley resents Gates's blatant disrespect for the old house and after telling him to discuss the sale with her solicitor, she climbs up the stairs, leaving him behind. After Gates follows her and apologizes for his insensitivity, she explains that she was born in the house when it was a hotel, and later she and her mother lovingly restored the edifice to its original purpose as a single family residence. After admonishing Gates to respect the memories of those that lived in the house, Lesley recounts the history of the dwelling: In 1804, Admiral Eustace Trimble buys an empty plot of land five miles from London. When the house is completed, he proudly displays it to his son Bill, noting the plaque he has installed in the cellar. During a raging storm one night, a woman collapses, exhausted, at the Trimble doorway. Later that evening, two men come looking for her, stating that she is Susan Trenchard, the ward of Ambrose Pomfret, who has betrothed her to William Barstow, one of the men who has come to claim her. Taking an instant dislike to the men, Bill refuses to let them see Susan, and Mrs. Trimble banishes them from her house at gunpoint. Soon after, Pomfret comes to claim his ward, and Susan announces that she is planning to marry Bill, thus freeing her from Pomfret's dictates. To Susan's surprise, Bill accepts her offhanded proposal and soon after their wedding, he is called to fight in the Napoleonic Wars. Susan gives birth to a son on the day that word arrives of Napoleon's defeat at Trafalger. The good news is followed by bad, however, when the family is notified that Bill has died in battle. As Susan's son grows to maturity, the family suffers financial setbacks and Pomfret buys the Trimble house out of vindictiveness. He never feels comfortable in the house, however, and one night, when he hears the voice of Admiral Trimble reclaiming his residence, Pomfret slashes the Admiral's portrait and the next morning is found dead. When Gates interrupts Lesley's story by asking if there were any good Pomfrets, she tells him about Dexter Pomfret, an iron manufacturer and amateur lepidopterist. One day, Mildred Trimble, the Admiral's great granddaughter, appears at the Pomfret house to buy back her great grandfather's portrait. Neither Mildred nor the portrait leave the house, however, because Mildred and Dexter marry. After Mildred suggests that Dexter build iron bathtubs, his business soars, raising the family to prominence. Dexter's son Anthony is knighted and Anthony's children, reared with great wealth and pretentions, lose touch with their heritage. Jim Trimble, a humble coal delivery man, retains his pride in the house that Eustace Trimble, his kinsman, built, however. When Jim decides to sail to America to start a new life, he asks Jenny Jones, the Pomfret's maid, to join him and she accepts. After the death of Lord and Lady Trimble- Pomfret, their son Augustus, who has moved to New York, puts the house up for sale. In 1917, the structure is called Trimble Hall and serves as a hotel run by Mrs. Ismay and her daughter Marjorie. On the night before Nan and Henry Barringer's son, Captain Archibald Barringer, a decorated war hero, is to return home and visit them at the hotel, Ned Trimble, an American soldier, arrives at the hotel, anxious to spend his twenty-four hour leave in his ancestral home. When Archie is delayed, the Barringers invite Ned to their table for dinner, and as Mrs. Barringer speaks fondly of her son, a telegram arrives, announcing his death. After Mrs. Barringer retires to her room to be alone, Mr. Barringer insists that Ned and Marjorie join him for dinner and together they solemnly toast Archie. After dinner, Marjorie gives Ned a tour of the hotel, ending in the cellar, where Ned sees Eustace's plaque. The next morning, Ned proposes to Marjorie and the two are wed before he returns to duty. When the armistice is declared, Marjorie retreats to the cellar and remembers Ned's endearments to her. Returning to the present, Lesley continues that she and her mother, Marjorie, restored the hotel with money left by her father. As Gates muses about how each generation of Trimbles and Pomfrets seems to find their way to the house, the bombs begin to fall once more. As soon as Lesley and Gates take shelter in the cellar, a direct hit by a bomb demolishes the house but leaves the cellar intact. After the bombing ceases, Gates and Lesley inspect the ruins of the house. When they find the portrait of the Admiral still hanging, Gates suggests that they rebuild the house because so many memories still live there.