Charles Dicke​​ns (Link to Blackburn and Hoghton Tower)​

Charles Dickens, the famous author was walking from Preston to Blackburn in 1854, doing research for his book “Hard Times”.  He came across Hoghton Towers, which was in a depressing state of disrepair.  Generations of Hoghton’s had moved away and the house fell into disuse. The only people living there were game keepers, but it prompted Dickens to write a short story called” George Silverman’s Explanation” which featured prominently, in the text he adds an s on to the Tower calling it Hoghton Towers. The text reads… “by some rugged outbuildings that had once been fortified, and passing under a ruined gateway we came to the old farmhouse in the thick stone wall outside the old quadrangle of Hoghton  Towers…a house, centuries old, deserted and falling to pieces, its woods and gardens long since grasslands or ploughed up, the Rivers  Ribble and Darwen glancing below it,…among the ancient rooms, many of them with their floors and ceilings falling, the beams and rafters hanging dangerously down, the plaster dropping as I trod, the oaken panels stripped away, the windows half walled up, half broken; when I discovered a gallery commanding the old kitchen,  and looked between the balustrades upon a massive old table and benches, fearing to see I know not what dead-alive creatures come in and seat themselves” He wrote this short story for an American Magazine called the Atlantic, and it was completed in a few days and he received reportedly £1,000.

​​Charles had performed his works in public, but only for charity. Beginning in 1858 he began a series of readings that took him all over Britain, this time for profit. In May 1867 he gave a reading at the Exchange Hall, Blackburn, legend has it that the booking official wanted to know what line of work he was engaged in. In the Blackburn Standard of the 1st of May 1867 he gave a reading of Dr. Marigold which was described as monotonous and too lengthy, he also read the trial scene from" Pickwick Papers" which proved highly acceptable and was much relished. He returned to Blackburn in 1869 on his farewell tour and he read the classic “A Christmas Carol “, this reading was well attended by a fashionable audience, he stayed at the Old Bull in Church Street, his national tours became even bigger earnings for the writer than his books .He was supposed to do a reading in Preston but he became ill and the reading was cancelled.

“George Silverman's Explanation" was his last book. Just before he died on the 9th of June 1870 he had been working on the novel “Edwin Drood" but this book was never finished.

Hoghton Tower was not restored until 1870. After a century of neglect. Despite the loss of many family portraits in a fire, the work was finished in 1901.

Grave of Charles Dickins.jpg
Dickens's grave in Westminster Abbey
Photo Taken from Wikipedia

Researched and written by Jeffrey Booth (Library volunteer)