Old Beech Tree in the Home Park in Windsor Park, based on a sketch made by​ Sandhurst Military Academy drawing-master W. Alfred Delamotte​ for the first instalment of Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance for June 1842 in Ainsworth's Magazine, which Ainsworth had founded after he had quarrelled with the publisher and left his editorial post at Bentley's Miscellany. "Book the First: Anne Boleyn," Chapter I, "Of the Earl of Surrey's solitary Ramble in the Home Park; Of​ the Vision beheld by him in the Haunted Dell; And of his​ Meeting with Morgan Fenwolf, the Keeper, beneath Herne's Oak,"​ bottom of p. 5:​ 6.3 cm high by 7 cm wide, vignetted. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

Passage​ Illustrated: Description of the Old Beech Tree

Brushing the soft and dewy turf with a footstep almost as light and​ bounding as that of a fawn, he speeded on for more than a quarter of a​mile, when he reached a noble beech-tree standing at the end of a clump​of timber. A number of rabbits were feeding beneath it, but at his​approach they instantly plunged into their burrows.

Here he halted to look at the castle. The sun had sunk behind it,​dilating its massive keep to almost its present height and tinging the​summits of the whole line of ramparts and towers, since rebuilt and​known as the Brunswick Tower, the Chester Tower, the Clarence Tower, and​the Victoria Tower, with rosy lustre. [Chapter I. "Of the Earl of Surrey's solitary Ramble in the Home Park; Of​the Vision beheld by him in the Haunted Dell; And of his​Meeting with Morgan Fenwolf, the Keeper, beneath Herne's Oak,"​ pp. 5-6]


The placement of the wood-engraving suggests that we are approaching the dramatic moment in the text from the perspective of the mundane present. However, as Ainsworth's antiquarian commentary makes clear, we are actually approaching the Earl of Surrey's adventure from a dual perspective: the picture is of the castle as it stands in 1842, but the narrator reminds the reader that the rampartys and towers have been reconstructed since Tudor times, and that what we are about to experience occurs within that fabled past.


Ainsworth, William Harrison. Windsor Castle. An Historical Romance. Illustrated by George Cruikshank and Tony Johannot. With designs on wood by W. Alfred Delamotte. London: Routledge, 1880. Based on the Henry Colburn edition of 1844.

Patten, Robert L. Chapter 30, "The 'Hoc' Goes Down." George Cruikshank's Life, Times, and Art, vol. 2: 1835-1878. Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers U. P., 1991; London: The Lutterworth Press, 1996. Pp. 153-186.

Worth, George J. William Harrison Ainsworth. New York: Twayne, 1972.

Last modified 30 November 2017