her Dickensian manor

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone. I would like to know what "her Dickensian manor" means in the following sentences:

Mummy, Madge, and I were gathered around the worn, nicked tea table at Ashfield, a site shot through with memories. Madge had pushed for us to spend Christmas at her Dickensian manor, and in the past, the notion of retreating to Abney Hall, with its vast halls, endless nooks, and unexpected staircases and its decor of burnished woodwork and dusty tapestries, would have enticed. After all, Mummy and I had spent many wondrous holidays there with the Watts family after Papa died. But Archie felt uncomfortable at Abney, even though Madge’s husband and the entirety of the Watts family offered him nothing but an open-armed welcome, especially my dear friend Nan with whom I’d reconnected.

- Marie Benedict, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, Part One, Chapter Twenty-Three

This is a mystery novel published in the United States in 2020. The story is mainly set at the present time in 1926, when Agatha Christie suddenly went missing for eleven days, but also goes back to the past time in the 1910's. In this scene, set in 1921, the narrator Agatha is at her mother's house Ashfield over Christmas to meet her older sister Madge. And she is recollecting how they had come to gather at Ashfield instead of Madge's house called Abney Hall, because Agatha's husband Archie felt uncomfortable at Abney Hall, feeling that his background was starkly contrasted with the wealth of the Abney Hall.

In this part, I wonder what "her Dickensian manor" would mean.
I learned in the dictionary that "Dickensian" can mean "the style in the novels of Charles Dickens, especially regarding the squalid and poor living conditions," but this is "Dickensian manor," so I wonder what "Dickensian" here would mean.

My guess is that, the point here might be the stark contrast between wealth and poverty, so "Dickensian" here could mean "extremely wealthy, as contrasted with the poor living conditions in the Dickensian novels," but I am not sure...

I would very much appreciate your help. :)
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The Manor is described: "Abney Hall, with its vast halls, endless nooks, and unexpected staircases and its decor of burnished woodwork and dusty tapestries," - Clearly it is not poverty-stricten or dilapidated.

    It is a hall/manor house that was designed, and is still decorated, in the style that would have been found at the time Dickens was alive. The period (broadly, Victorian) is characterised by heavy furnishings, elaborate decorations, very high ceilings, generosity of internal space, and a rather depressing/daunting exterior.

    Abney Hall actually exists: Abney Hall - Wikipedia

    Keith Bradford

    Senior Member
    English (Midlands UK)
    Looking like this inside in 1913:


    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear The Newt, PaulQ, Loob, Keith Bradford and AutumnOwl,

    Thank you very much for the explanations and the pictures!
    So "Dickensian manor" would mean a manor house that might have existed during the period in which Dickens was alive (the Victorian period), with heavy furnishings, high ceilings, elaborate decorations and a depressing exterior.

    Looking at the pictures I think I got the idea as to what this "Dickensian manor" might have looked like!
    I sincerely appreciate your help, as always. :)


    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Mmm - it looks as though the author is using Dickensian to mean Victorian...
    Yes, I agree. There doesn't seem to be anything specifically Dickensian to the manor. My first reaction was to think of a specific manor described in one of Dickens's novels, perhaps the dilapidated Satis House in Great Expectations, but this is clearly not the case.

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear natkretep,

    Thank you very much for the explanation.
    So "Dickensian" here would mean "existing in the period of Dickens" (=the Victorian period) rather than "existing in the novels of Dickens"!
    I sincerely appreciate your help. :)