Set in 1854 young Jonathan Flaxton (David Smith) inherited Flaxton Hall from his great uncle, Joseph who was heartily disliked by the locals. This meant that Jonathan has only aged retainer, Nathan (James Hayter), to help him and his mother run the huge hall. In this episode he meets Archie Weekes (Peter Firth) who's apprenticed to cruel chimney sweep, Holdsworth. Jonathan's father is a Captain in the Army and is away fighting in the Crimea so, effectively, Jonathan is the Squire and he uses his position to help save Archie from Holdsworth's worst excesses and they ...
Archie is now a member of the family and tries to dissuade Jonathan from pursuing a woman dressed all in black; he prefers to fish for a large trout. He thinks the woman's a 'ghoulie'; she seems to disappear but when she turns up as Flora to become the housekeeper, Jonathan doesn't know whether she's trustworthy.
Archie manages to keep Jonathan's spirits up after the news that his father is missing after the 'charge of the light brigade'. However, both boys' feel down after they help someone who pretends to have been mugged and he's engaged as their tutor. Flora and Archie are suspicious but Jonathan's mother is too grief-stricken to notice.
Joseph Flaxton is supposed to have left a fortune and some of the locals are keen to find it. The boys and Jonathan's mother Lucy are ignorant but a local squire's factotum is intent on finding it for himself and blackmails other rogues to aid him. In this episode he persuades some smugglers, down on their luck, to search for it while they steal the valuable stores of wine and brandy.
Sir Peregrine Stilgoe is a neighbour who is intent on seizing Joseph Flaxton's fortune for himself and he uses all his cunning to find it before the Flaxton household. He asks Lucy (Mrs Flaxton) if his seriously wounded nephew might stay at Flaxton Hall to recuperate; she agrees but is he really a bona fide wounded soldier? Jonathan sees through the ruse but puts himself and Archie in danger.
The local villagers think that a woman and her mute daughter are witches. They chase the women to Flaxton Hall where they're found by the boys who don't know what to do so they seek out the local rector who gives them a lesson in logic.
The Crimean War is raging but at home spies and saboteurs abound. Is the artist the boys meet real or has he designs on a new secret canon that the Queen's Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery are taking to Woolwich?
The Stilgoe Hunt meets at Flaxton Hall and Archie wants to follow it but Jonathan is against hunting. Archie can't understand his friend's misgivings but when Jonathan decides to lay a false trail Archie is more than keen for a bit of fun; he takes the lead but the boys get lost and end up in danger.
Sir Peregrine's debts have reached breaking point but lack of money has also started to feature at Flaxton Hall and now the family knows about the treasure there is a race to find it. The key is in the opening lines of Grays Elegy.
Sir Peregrine Stilgoe has given up all pretence at subtlety to find Joseph Flaxton's fortune. His factotum finds a number of ex-cons and they converge on Flaxton's Hall. Nathan tries to defend the family but is overpowered; however, help arrives from an unexpected quarter but is it enough?