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Charles Dickens' trip to Cornwall: Inspiring the most famous Christmas story...

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is arguably the most famous and much-loved Christmas story, with countless film adaptations and its powerful message carried through to each festive period since its release in 1843.

Barry West has taken a great interest in Charles Dickens' trip to Cornwall 180 years ago.

But did you know Cornwall may have played a vital role in inspiring the Victorian writer to pen A Christmas Carol, plus one man in particular is thought to have helped shape one of the story’s most important characters?

Barry West is a historian from St Austell who travels the lengths and breadths of Cornwall to uncover historical mysteries and reveal the county’s past. A few years ago, he started following the journey of Charles Dickens, who visited Cornwall in 1842 after stating he wanted to see ‘the very dreariest and most desolate portion’ of the Cornish coast.

On 27th October 1842, Dickens embarked on his Cornish adventure. He visited St Michael’s Mount, Tintagel, St Nectan’s Glen, the Logan stone at Treen, the mine at Botallack and Land’s End, which appears in A Christmas Carol.

But Barry West, who has heavily researched Dickens’ associations with Cornwall, believes that one of the novel’s most notable characters, Jacob Marley, may have been based on a doctor he met in London, who later moved to Port Isaac.

Christopher Marley (left) and Barry West with the grave of Dr Miles Marley.

It’s recorded that Dickens attended a party on St Patrick’s Day hosted by Dr Miles Marley in Piccadilly, who remarked on the unusual name of the author and claimed it would become ‘a household word’ - and it certainly did. Dr Marley later moved to Port Isaac, died in 1854 and is buried in St Endellion Church.

Dickens’ stories have a recurring theme running throughout, that of poverty and the harsh times that Victorian folk faced every day. A Christmas Carol represents this entirely, and enforces that the simple acts of kindness and generosity can overcome some of these difficulties - perhaps something we should all try and bring through to our modern world.

What do you think? And do you know any more about Charles Dickens and his trip to Cornwall? Email


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