THE OPENING OF THE SHUTTERS
After 9 months of negotiation and discussions, the shutters were finally opened at the Chancery Lane offices at 6.30 p.m. on Friday 28 November.
The event coincided with the turning on of the Christmas Lights and the arrival of Father Christmas in Malton. It was very, very cold and foggy but it was a delight to welcome so many members and guests to our special event.
Selina Scott, suitably attired in warm hat, coat and gloves, had already had to stand around for some considerable time waiting for Father Christmas – we don’t know why he was delayed – perhaps it was the inclement weather. Perhaps he’d stopped en route, for a stiffener to warm his feet! However once the Malton lights were turned on and Selina had done her ‘bit’, Father Christmas began giving out special goodies – courtesy of Radio Minster.
We returned Selina to the Shopping Mall for a warming beverage and then set about welcoming all our other guests, to our own very special event.
There were representatives from Ryedale Council, Malton Tourist Information, local shops and businesses and the Fitzwilliam Estate as well as our own trustees, patrons and members. In all about thirty guests. We were especially pleased to welcome Jo Claire, the local artist, who had been commissioned to paint the two window scenes for display.
The outside of Chancery Lane looked great, thanks to the efforts and decorating skills of Malcolm Chalk. The windows had been cleaned, the shutters, window frames and door painted and the frontage tidied up with fresh gravel and planters. The installation of internal lighting, focussed on the paintings, had been helped by a grant of £25.00 from Ryedale Council. The pride of place, on the door, was a huge brass doorknocker, in the form of a lion’s head, donated by Sid Woodham’s and it looked the real business!
Selina opened the shutters and everyone applauded the final effect. They looked fantastic. Jo Claire had captured the true essence of Dickens’ description of the Counting House. Scrooge and Bob Cratchit were bowed over their desk tops, each with feather quill in hand. Scrooge of course had a larger fire and candle than the unfortunate and put-upon Bob Cratchit. There in the corner of Scrooge’s office was the coal skuttle – to prevent poor Bob sneaking an extra piece of coal to warm his thinly covered bones. The décor reflected Scrooge’s miserly approach to never spending an unnecessary penny on what he considered inessentials.
Above the door is a wall plaque, of gold lettering on grey slate, dedicating the premises to Dickens’ memory and that of his friend Charles Smithson. It really is a significant achievement and an important one. The celebration was especially meaningful to our Honorary President, Ian Wray, who has seen the connection with his forebears and Dickens, recognised in such a way.
When all the formalities were concluded we retired to the Shopping Mall Café for a very welcome glass of fizzy and to enjoy the excellent spread put on by Malcolm’s staff and Georgina Lloyd, another of our trustees – her mince pies were delicious.
The evening continued inside in the warm and as they said – a good time was had by all.
Come the new year we shall start planning a proper Dickens’ Festival in Malton for December 2009 – so stay tuned. Until then we all wish each other a Very Merry Christmas and May God Bless Us, Every One!