Charles Dickens and his literary links to Shropshire

5th November 2012

Charles Dickens and his literary links to Shropshire

With a new film of Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations due for release nationwide on November 30 starring Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham, we’re celebrating Shropshire’s connections with the famous author, in this, his bicentenary year.

Here's a brief run down on some of Dicken’s Shropshire connections...

Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870)

A Christmas Carol

The 1984 film of Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ was shot in Shrewsbury starring George C Scott. The cast and crew stayed at the Lion Hotel and the Prince Rupert, and you can still see Ebenezer Scrooge's gravestone in the cemetery at St Chad's to this day. Other locations can also still be visited, such as The Crescent, Town Walls; The Square (where the market scene was filmed), and locations such as Fish Street, Dogpole and Bearsteps. Shrewsbury Visitor Information Centre also runs Christmas Carol Guided tours

The Lion Hotel

Shropshire has long championed its links with Charles Dickens. In his book ‘Four Centuries at The Lion Hotel’ Author John Butterworth says Dickens himself stayed at the Lion Hotel in Shrewsbury at least twice. In a letter Dickens wrote to one of his daughters in 1858 he said “...we have the strangest little rooms, the ceilings of which I can touch with my hand...” Today, guests can stay in the Dickens Suite at The Lion Hotel, named after the famous author.

Tong, near Shifnal

Tong, near Shifnal, is broadly thought to be the village where Little Nell dies at the end of The Old Curiosity Shop. A fake grave was erected for her in the churchyard.

The Shropshire Star reported earlier this year that John Murfin, who lives in the parish and is a member of the congregation at St Bartholomew's Church, said Dickens visited the area to see his grandmother who was a housekeeper at Tong Castle.

According to Mr Murfin, George Bowden, the verger and postmaster in Tong, erected a fake grave and recorded her "death" in the church registry with tourists charged a shilling to see the grave.

Newport, Shropshire

It is documented that Dickens encountered a wealthy recluse called Elizabeth Parker whilst staying in Newport, Shropshire at the aptly named Havisham Court. Elizabeth Parker became a recluse after being stood-up on her wedding day, leading to claims she inspired the character of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations.

To read more about Shropshire’s famous literary connections click here