Birthday unveiling marks start of Blue Plaque walk

Unveiling of the Charles Dickens blue plaque at the Angel Hotel, Bury St Edmunds''Pictured: Clive Lofts, son of Norah Lofts, who also has a blue plaque
Unveiling of the Charles Dickens blue plaque at the Angel Hotel, Bury St Edmunds''Pictured: Clive Lofts, son of Norah Lofts, who also has a blue plaque
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A BLUE Plaque marking Charles Dickens’ link to Bury St Edmund was unveiled on his 200th birthday.

The plaque is the first of seven to go up after a two-year campaign by the Bury Society and is on The Angel Hotel, which the writer visited three times and used in The Pickwick Papers.

Unveiling of the Charles Dickens blue plaque at the Angel Hotel, Bury St Edmunds''Pictured from left: Mayor of St Edmundsbury Christopher Spicer, Christine and Clive Paine (Dressed in dickensian clothing), Mary Gough (Owner of the hotel) and Martyn Taylor (Organiser of the blue plaques)

Unveiling of the Charles Dickens blue plaque at the Angel Hotel, Bury St Edmunds''Pictured from left: Mayor of St Edmundsbury Christopher Spicer, Christine and Clive Paine (Dressed in dickensian clothing), Mary Gough (Owner of the hotel) and Martyn Taylor (Organiser of the blue plaques)

Unveiling the plaque on Tuesday, historian Clive Paine said Dickens first visited in 1835 as a reporter covering elections. Having included Bury and the Angel in his first novel, he stayed there in 1859 and 1861 to give readings at The Athenaeum.

English Heritage approved the plaque for his brief association while turning down ones for 15th century benefactor Jankyn Smyth, Abbey Gardens designer Nathaniel Hodson and John Orridge, Bury prison governor at Red Barn murderer William Corder’s hanging.

But the other writer the plaques remember has stronger connections. Historical novelist Norah Lofts, whose books are still in print, is remembered on Northgate House, Northgate Street, her home from 1955 to her death in 1983.

Her son Clive lives next door and said: “I’m very proud of what my mother did, and now this has happened. It’s nice to know she’s been recognised. I think she would have been delighted.”

Emma Valentine, who owns Northgate House, said she and Clive were looking into installing a plaque themselves when the Bury Society asked.

Martyn Taylor, the society’s Blue Plaque organiser, said the process had taken so long because of the research and the need for permission from building owners, English Heritage and St Edmundsbury Borough Council. Most of the buildings are listed.

All seven will be up by the end of February and a walk guide pamphlet is available.