Agenda item

Dickens 150


The plans to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ death in 2020 were shared with the Committee.


Key information was shared with Members pertaining to Charles Dickens, his death at Gads Hill on 09 June 1970, his history with the Borough and other areas in the Country that would be commemorating the 150th anniversary. Specifically, Gravesham officers are aware that there will be a memorial service at Westminster Abbey as he was buried there; the Assistant Director (Communities) wanted to raise Gravesham’s profile and make it more known that Charles Dickens spent his last fourteen years of his life living at Gad’s Hill Place and died there.


The Assistant Director (Communities) added that Portsmouth apparently have the original piece of furniture that Charles Dickens died upon and the Gad’s Hill Place Trust are enquiring about bringing it  back to Gravesham.


The Assistant Director (Communities) advised that officers from Gravesham, Medway, Swale, Thanet and Visit Kent were working together to coordinate a programme of events across the County.


The Assistant Director (Communities) further briefed Members on the potential programme of events for ‘Dickens 150’ listed on pages 58-59 of the report:


·         Dickens’ Walks

·         Theatre Performances

·         Dickens’ Quotes Projects

·         A Dickens’ Exhibition

·         A Dickensian Cricket Match

·         Art Workshops and Projects

·         Gad’s Hill Place


One Member praised the quote project as he felt it was a very good way of communicating Dickens’ work; he noted that there would be a memorial service at Westminster Abbey to commemorate the 150th anniversary and asked if a small number of tickets could be made available to ensure Gravesham had a presence there. He also asked officers whether Higham Parish Council had been contacted as they would inevitably be making preparations to commemorate the anniversary.


The Assistant Director (Communities) assured the Committee that contacting Higham and Shorne Parish Council was a priority and the team wanted them to be involved in the commemorations. With regard to Westminster Abbey, it is understood that the ticketing will be run by the Dickens Fellowship UK and they will be contacted to inform them of the Council’s interest in attending; perhaps The Mayor and a few other official Gravesham representatives could attend.


Several more suggestions were made by the Committee to promote Dickens 150, outlined below:


·         The schools needed to become involved as Charles Dickens was a very important figure in Gravesham and the Country’s history; primary and secondary schools to be contacted nearer the time to get them involved. Five-ten minute excerpts from his literature could be acted out in the Town Centre, for example

·         Competitions in schools about Dickens’ literature

·         Raise awareness of local places in the Borough associated with Charles Dickens

·         Add in any promotional advertisement to the Visit Gravesham website and the Gravesham visitor information point

·         A Dickens’ scarecrow competition, where schools make Dickens’ characters as scarecrows, could be carried out again with the inclusion of famous Dickens quotes around the Town on the scarecrows and on signs, etc


The Chair thanked the officers for their informative report and asked them to incorporate the Committees ideas into the programme.


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