General Sir Charles Warren, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., F.R.S., R.E., 1840–1927

Born in 1840, the son of Major-General Sir Charles Warren - one of the heroes of Inkerman - Charles Warren was educated at Cheltenham College, from which he proceeded to Sandhurst and Woolwich.

PEF-P-1315 Charles Warren and members of his team in Jerusalem, in 1867. From Left, Charles Warren, Bishop Barclay, and Sergenat Henry Phillips R. E. (the photographer). Seated is Mr Eaton, and Standing is Jerius Salame, the expedition’s dragoman.


He was gazetted in 1857 in the Royal Engineers, was given his company in 1869, and six years later became Major and Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel.

PEF-PI-28: Watercolour by William ‘Crimea’ Simpson from 1871 showing Warren studying plans in a rock-cut conduit underneath Robinson’s Arch, part of the Herodian structure of the Haram Enclosure in Jerusalem.

Between 1867 and 1870 Lieutenant Warren carried out the explorations in Palestine which form the basis for our knowledge of the topography of ancient Jerusalem and the archaeology of the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif.

PEF-DA-JER-WAR-62.4.5: Sketch plan by Warren showing the south Western end of the Haram Enclosure/Temple Mount, the underlying bedrock, and a hypothetical reconstruction of Robinson’s Arch a structure associated with the Herodian era Jewish Temple on the site (1st centuries BC/AD).

This first major expedition of the Fund, in addition to the information it provided concerning Jerusalem, served to raise the public interest in the work of the Fund sufficiently such that £60,000 was raised by public subscription to carry out the great Survey of Western Palestine. In addition to his explorations on, under, and around the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, Warren surveyed the Plain of Philistia, the Roman temples on Mount Hermon,  and carried out a very important reconnaissance of central Jordan. 

PEF-DA-JER-WAR- 66: Map of Transjordan from a reconnaissance survey of the Jordan Valley in the winter of 1867-68.

After this he was sent to South Africa where during the next few years it fell to him to settle many difficult questions in connection with the boundary of the British possessions, which he did with tact and diplomacy. Returning to England in 1880, he was appointed Instructor of Surveying at Chatham, but in 1882 he was sent to the Sinai to investigate the fate of Professor Edward Henry Palmer and his associates, discovering their murder and apprehending the murderers. In 1884, now a Lieutenant-cClonel, he again returned to Africa, where he established the claims of Great Britain over the disputed territory known as British Bechuanaland. After holding command of the garrison in Suakim (1886) he was recalled to England the same year to be Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police , during which time he oversaw Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1887, and introduced the rank of Chief Constables to the Force. The Police Force under his direction famously failed to solve the Whitechapel, or Jack the Ripper murders, and this, together with disagreements with the Home Office led to his resignation in 1888. In the following year he went to Singapore, where he commanded the troops in the Straits Settlements for five years. 


During the Boer War, now a Lieutenant-General, he commanded the 5th Division of the South African Field Force. His first failure at Spion Kop was the subject of much controversy, but on the resumption of the offensive in Natal he succeeded in forcing a crossing of the Tugela River and in winning an action at Pieters Hill which paved the way for the relief of Ladysmith. He later held an important administrative post in Cape Colony. He was promoted General in 1904, and the next year was placed on the retired list. He was a committed Freemason and first Master of the First Lodge founded with the aim of conducting Masonic research.

After his retirement he took a keen interest in the Church Lads’ Brigade and was a pioneering Scoutmaster in the movement founded by his boyhood friend and military colleague, Lord Baden-Powell.