The Locksmith of London

© AmalgaMedia 2014-2015

The character of Varden unites all the threads of this complex story. It is not possible if the title BARNABY RUDGE is retained.


The story remains faithful to the original, but opens in London with a son challenging the will of his Father. It has a touch of Sheridan. When the Landlord of the Maypole Inn  reprimands his son Joe, he speaks East End Essex. In this complex story, the characters range over all classes, from high born to street kids. It gives a compulsive vitality to the scenes switching between melodrama and comedy. The farcical initiation scene of the Apprentices sets simmering the rage that will eventually lead to the Riots. It is the playfulness of early Dickens which reveals his genius.

Varden takes the middle ground between smooth talking Chester (the political Protestant of London) and Geoffrey Haredale, the country landowner, the devout Roman Catholic of the Old Faith.

Varden is kindly and unprejudiced. He likes his beer. He dotes on his daughter and tolerates his complaining wife and her moralising from the Protestant Manual. In his nature he symbolises the Philosophy of John Locke whose beliefs were in Toleration

and the Reasonablness of Christianity. As an employer he is kindly but firm. His trade is in security and the manufacturing of locks and keys. He is unaware of the mischief which is going on in his own household by Tappertit who is quietly leading a secret society of apprentices. It will undermine his work and the social order.

Most of the high flown fustian and Victorian moraliising has gone without the loss of style. Dickens' book covers all social classes. Chigwell is 12 miles from London, but speakers should use a touch of old Essex pronunciation (i.e. Hugh pronounced as ‘You’).


The education of Gashford, a poor boy, might have come from guardians who had prayed for a priest in the family. He rebelled against the curbs of such a vocation.


In addition to the letters and diaries pf the time available to Dickens more recent historical research has thrown light upon the individuals in the mob and their trades, ethnic communities and religions. London was the centre of world wide trade. Whilst remaining true to the books an attempt has been made to reflect the diversity of Londoners at that time.