Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

House with Dickens Link Is a Turn-Up for the Books; in the Latest Addition of Our Occasional Hidden Tyneside Series, LIZ LAMB Visits a 17th Century House,which Has Also Been an 18th Century Inn and a Meeting Place for Politicians

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

House with Dickens Link Is a Turn-Up for the Books; in the Latest Addition of Our Occasional Hidden Tyneside Series, LIZ LAMB Visits a 17th Century House,which Has Also Been an 18th Century Inn and a Meeting Place for Politicians

Article excerpt

IT IS regarded as one of Britain's greatest novels, but did you know that part of Great Expectations may have been penned here on Tyneside?

Charles Dickens is rumoured to have written some of his work on the book in Newcastle while on many of his visits to the Queen's Head Inn on Pilgrim Street.

The inn is long since gone and is now home to Alderman Fenwick's House, a 17th Century building that has also been a Liberal club and a Fenwick's family home.

Though it has never been proven that Dickens did pen some of the novel here, he was a frequent visitor to the inn - enough for the Dickens Society to request a visit to Newcastle to view where he once stayed.

Another North East connection is that Dickens married Catherine Thompson Hogarth, daughter of Chronicle editor George Hogarth, in April 1836 and the couple had 10 children.

Dickens worked as a young journalist at the Chronicle.

Standing in the Great Room of the house, which has been restored to its former glory, Brian Jobling of the Building's Preservation Trust takes up the tale.

'The inn was a thriving business and one of the most notable persons who stayed here was Charles Dickens.

"It is rumoured that part of Great Expectations was written here. He was a great traveller and whenever he came to the North East he stayed at the Queen's Head.

'The Dickens Society was on the phone a month ago wanting to come to Newcastle for a visit and it was in my conversation with them that they mentioned Great Expectations could have been written here."

He is not the only notable person to have visited the house. Many of the Country's politicians met here when it was a Library Club between 1883 and the early 1960s, "I have also heard that a Russian prince used to stay here when he was travelling the country looking at the shipbuilding industry in the North East," says Brian.

You may have walked past Alderman Fenwicks house many times but not realized the extent of its history on Tynside.

The house, which is now home to several business, still has many of its original features and through not normally open to the public it opens itys doors on National Heritage Day and visits by members of the public can be arranged by appointment.

Brain says:"a year ago when we opened over a weekend on the heritage days we had over 2000 visitors.

"The building is to sa entwined with the history of Newcastle, it's so important because of its links with the Fenrick family and the time when it was a Liberal club, when most Liberal politicians of the day visited the place.

"it has very strong historical associations."

Many of the original features of the property have been restored by the Tyne & Wear Preservation Trust, who took over the Lease of building in 1982, form Newcastle City Council.

As you enter the building, the hallway there is an imposing original wooden staircase, which had to be dismanteled and restored after falling into disrepair over the centuries.

The staircase sweeps up to the fourth floor and above that is a magnificicent cupola, a domelike structure with windows which forms the roofs of the hallway.

On the ceiling of the cupola is beautiful painted sky scene and golden wind vane. …

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