BBC’s Dickensian Exhibit at the Charles Dickens Museum

The Charles Dickens Museum is currently hosting an exhibit in collaboration with Red Planet on Dickensian: Behind-the-Scenes of the BBC drama series until 17 April 2016. As a fan of the period drama, I had to see the exhibit, which features costumes, props, and models from the TV series. The exhibit is included in the admission (£9 for adults – free for Art Fund members).

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Dickensian, the 20-part drama series on BBC One intertwines characters from Charles Dicken’s novels: A Christmas Carol, Bleak House, Great Expectations, Martin Chuzzlewit, The Old Curiosity Shop, Oliver Twist, Our Mutual Friend. (However, there are constantly references to characters from other novels, though we do not see them.) The series is set in the mid-19th Century, despite the fact that many of the novels are set in different decades in the 19th Century. Some of the stories we see are the backstory (prequel?) for some of the characters. For instance, we meet a younger Miss Amelia Havisham, her half-brother Arthur, and Mr Compeyson (Great Expectations).

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The impressive set, which spans two large West London warehouses, transports all viewers to Victorian London during winter (ironically, the series was filmed during summer).

Dickensian Set

Model of the set designed by Michael Ralph

The Charles Dickens Museum is in 48-49 Doughty Street, acquired by the Dickens Fellowship in 1923 and opened as a museum in 1925. From March 1837 – December 39, Charles Dickens and his young family, as well as Charles’ brother Frederick and his wife Catherine’s sister, Mary, lived at 48 Doughty Street. In almost every room of the three-storey townhouse (plus cellar), there is at least one costume from Dickensian by costume designer, Andrea Galer.

Ground floor

Ground floor

Dickens Museum - Dining Rm - Sir Leicester Dedlock

Sir Leicester Dedlock’s Costume in the Dining Room

Dickens Museum - Kitchen - Mrs Gamp & Mrs Bumble

Costumes for Mrs Gamp (Left) & Mrs Bumble (Right) in the Kitchen

Mrs Gamp Costume

Costume for the gin-addict Mrs Gamp (Martin Chuzzlewit)

Mrs Bumble Costume

Costume for social climber, Mrs Bumble (Oliver Twist)

The Dickens couple's Bedroom

The Dickens couple’s Bedroom on the 1st floor

Once the bedroom of Mary, Catherine's sister

Once the bedroom of Mary Hogarth, Catherine’s sister, on the 1st floor. Mary died in May 1837.

Honoria Barbary Costume

Costume for the fashionable Honoria Barbary (Bleak House), who works as a shop girl at Mantalini’s and whose father is in the textile trade.

Amelia Havisham Costume

Costume for the wealthy Amelia Havisham (Great Expectations), before she becomes the jilted bride of Satis House. Some of the laces used on Miss Havisham’s dresses are antique (Victorian era) whilst others are made by the women from Power of Hands.

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Costumes of the workhouse & pauper boys’ costumes in the children’s nursery on the top floor ‘reflect the horror of child slavery’. Behind the costumes is the prison grille from Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison in Southwark.

Dickensian Street Props

Dickensian Street Props

Garraway's teapot sign

Garraway’s teapot sign

As of 28 January 2016, BBC One has already aired 13 episodes of Dickensian, with 7 more to go. There are usually 2 episodes every week, on Wednesdays and Thursdays or Thursdays and Fridays for half an hour each around 20:00 / 20:30.


Address: 48 Doughty Street

Tube: Russell Square, Chancery Lane, Holborn, Kings Cross

Hours: Tues-Sun 10:00-17:00 (last admission at 16:00)