Blue plaque will honour Dickens's love of Brighton

Posted On 07 Feb 2012 at 3:07 pm

Charles Dickens’s great-great-grandson is due to unveil a blue plaque in Brighton tomorrow (Wednesday 8 February) to commemorate the author.

Ian Dickens will unveil the plaque at noon on the site where the Bedford Hotel once stood.

Dickens wrote a large part of the novel Dombey and Son while staying at the hotel, which burnt down in 1964.

It was replaced with a modern hotel and flats. The hotel is now called the Holiday Inn and the flats are called Bedford Towers.

Today is the bicentenary of Dickens’s birth. He often visited and stayed in Brighton and Hove.

The plaque has been paid for in part by a generous donation from the residents of Bedford Towers, the building’s freeholders and the Brighton and Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel.

A previous plaque to Dickens was placed on the old Bedford Hotel in the presence of representatives of local societies and the Dickens Fellowship. It was lost when the building was destroyed.

The Regency Society said: “Dickens was very fond of Brighton, which he first visited in October 1837.

“In Dombey and Son, Paul Dombey is educated at Doctor Blimber’s School in Upper Rock Gardens.

“Dickens refers to Brighton in Bleak House, Nicholas Nickleby, Sketches by Boz, and an ale – Brighton Tipper – is mentioned in The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit.

“He also stayed at 148 King’s Road, just down from the old Bedford Hotel, writing parts of David Copperfield there, at the Old Ship Hotel, and with friends and family.

“His last visit was during his farewell tour in 1868. He died in 1870.”

The old Bedford Hotel is also believed to have featured in the work of another author with links to Brighton.

Graham Greene is thought to have based the Cosmopolitan – in his novel Brighton Rock – on the Bedford, making it the base used by the fictitious gang leader Mr Colleoni.

A Charles Dickens Bicentenary Tour was due to take place at the Royal Pavilion at 11.30am today. It will be repeated a week on Saturday (18 February) at 2pm. The cost is £5.

Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, the Brighton and Hove City Council cabinet member for culture, recreation and tourism, said: “Blue plaques raise awareness of the great and the good who have had connections with our city.

“Charles Dickens excites huge interest globally, and we are delighted to be able to mark his connection with and love of our city in this way – especially in the bicentenary of his birth.”

Last March a blue plaque was unveiled in memory of the artist and Dickens’s illustrator Hablot Knight Browne (1815-82) although he was better known by the pseudonym Phiz.

Knight Browne lived in Hove at 8 Clarendon Villas, where the plaque commemorates his life and association with the town.

He died locally on 8 July 1882 and is buried in Brighton. 

At the time of the unveiling, Adam Bates, the council’s head of tourism, said: “It’s an interesting fact that Phiz lived here.

“It makes you realise that the city’s history as a hang-out for media types goes back a long way.”

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