The Warren by George Cattermole. 3 ¾ x 4 ½ inches (9 cm by 11.2 cm). Vignetted wood-engraving. Chapter 13, Barnaby Rudge. 3 April 1841 in serial publication (fourteenth plate in the series). Part 8 in the novel, serialised in Master Humphrey's Clock, Vol. III (part 51), 1. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Passage Illustrated: The Haredale Mansion

The pathway, after a very few minutes’ walking, brought him close to the house, towards which, and especially towards one particular window, he directed many covert glances. It was a dreary, silent building, with echoing courtyards, desolated turret-chambers, and whole suites of rooms shut up and mouldering to ruin.

The terrace-garden, dark with the shade of overhanging trees, had an air of melancholy that was quite oppressive. Great iron gates, disused for many years, and red with rust, drooping on their hinges and overgrown with long rank grass, seemed as though they tried to sink into the ground, and hide their fallen state among the friendly weeds. The fantastic monsters on the walls, green with age and damp, and covered here and there with moss, looked grim and desolate. There was a sombre aspect even on that part of the mansion which was inhabited and kept in good repair, that struck the beholder with a sense of sadness; of something forlorn and failing, whence cheerfulness was banished. It would have been difficult to imagine a bright fire blazing in the dull and darkened rooms, or to picture any gaiety of heart or revelry that the frowning walls shut in. It seemed a place where such things had been, but could be no more—the very ghost of a house, haunting the old spot in its old outward form, and that was all.

Much of this decayed and sombre look was attributable, no doubt, to the death of its former master, and the temper of its present occupant; but remembering the tale connected with the mansion, it seemed the very place for such a deed, and one that might have been its predestined theatre years upon years ago. Viewed with reference to this legend, the sheet of water where the steward’s body had been found appeared to wear a black and sullen character, such as no other pool might own; the bell upon the roof that had told the tale of murder to the midnight wind, became a very phantom whose voice would raise the listener’s hair on end; and every leafless bough that nodded to another, had its stealthy whispering of the crime. [Chapter the Thirteenth, complementing the headpiece, Vol. III, 4]

The Warren — Joe Willet's Errand

Phiz's initial letter vignette "I," showing the pipe-smoking publican John Willet who greets the travelleer at the door of the Maypole in the first line of the chapter of the third monthly part (3 April 1841).

Although undoubtedly picturesque, as a headpiece Cattermole's depiction of The Warren, the Haredale estate where the murders occurred two decades earlier, is less  than satisfactory as a realisation of an actual scene in the chapter. Joe Willet, with an  errand in London, turns aside from the main highway to call at the dilapidated great  house. He is apparently used to running errands for Emma Haredale, often carrying letters from her to somebody in town (likely Edward Chester). However, as Dickens makes clear, Joe waits for a sign from within the courtyard, and not outside the rusted gates where he would be unable to see the front of the house; consequently, Cattermole has satisfied his own sense of the Warren and placed the figure before it to complete a romantic landscape. The accompanying text makes it clear that Joe does not wait in the woods, but walks past the gates and into the courtyard: "The pathway, after a very few minutes’ walking, brought him close to the house, towards which, and especially towards one particular window, he directed many covert glances. It was a dreary, silent building, with echoing courtyards, desolated turret-chambers, and whole suites of rooms shut up and mouldering to ruin" (Vol. III, 4).

In consequence of a desire to render the house in a  Constable-like manner, obscuring our view of it with lush vegetation, and showing only the portal, Cattermole creates a sense of anticipation in the reader, of Joe's waiting in the grounds for Emma to appear in person with her missive, that the text does not realize.

Joe paced up and down the path, sometimes stopping in affected contemplation of the building or the prospect, sometimes leaning against a tree with an assumed air of idleness and indifference, but always keeping an eye upon the window he had singled out at first. After some quarter of an hour’s delay, a small white hand was waved to him for an instant from this casement, and the young man, with a respectful bow, departed; saying under his breath as he crossed his horse again, "No errand for me to-day!" [Vol. III, 4-5]

In the opening chapter, Dickens had prepared readers for some such scene at the Warren by having the mysterious stranger ask Maypole host John Willet about about the neighbouring mansion:

. . . the great house — the Warren — naturally and of course. The old red brick house, sir, that stands in its own grounds —?"

"Aye," said the stranger.

"And that fifteen or twenty years ago stood in a park five times as broad, which with other and richer property has bit by bit changed hands and dwindled away — more’s the pity!" pursued the young man.

"The owner’s name is Haredale, Mr. Geoffrey Haredale, and" — again he glanced in the same direction as before — "and a worthy gentleman, too — hem!" [Vol. II, Chapter the First, 254]

From the first, then, Dickens wishes readers to associate the neighbouring estate, now much diminished (like the land-owning aristocracy itself in the Victorian period), with the worthy gentleman, Mr. Geoffrey Haredale, his attractive twenty-three-year-old niece, and the strange murders of the previous owner, Reuben Haredale, and his steward (Rudge) that occurred twenty-two years earlier. Tonally, Dickens contrasts the opening part of the chapter, concerning the Warren, with Joe's abortive visit to Dolly Varden.

Related Material including Other Illustrated Editions of Barnaby Rudge

Scanned image and text by George P. Landow, with additional commentary 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.]


Dickens, Charles. Barnaby Rudge. Illustrated by Hablot K. Browne ('Phiz') and George Cattermole. London: Chapman and Hall, 1841; rpt., Bradbury & Evans, 1849.

Vann, J. Don. "Barnaby Rudge in Master Humphrey's Clock, 13 February 1841-27 November 1841." Victorian Novels in Serial. New York: MLA, 1985. 65-6.

Created 4 January 2006

Last modified 14 December 2020