EBENEZER SCROOGE'S COUNTING HOUSE
Back in the early 19th century, the building in Chancery Lane, Malton housed the Smithson family law practice. As part of his training, Charles Smithson spent time in London, where he met and established a friendship with Charles Dickens. When Smithson returned to Malton, Dickens would come to visit him and explore Yorkshire. Dickens is believed to have modelled Scrooge’s Counting House in A Christmas Carol on the Chancery Lane premises.
This building, with such a fascinating history, is now owned by the Fitzwilliam (Malton) Estate and is the home of the Counting House museum, maintained and run by volunteers from the Charles Dickens (Malton) Society.
Inside you will find giant paintings (by local artist Jo Claire) of Ebenezer Scrooge and his clerk, Bob Cratchit, and cartoon sketches of many of the well-known characters from Dickens’ novels. There's a display featuring some of the many books he wrote, overlooked by a frightening vision of the ghost of Jacob Marley – whose image you may also recognise in the front doorknocker! You can see a range of information about Dickens himself, the many houses in which he lived, his large family (10 children), and the many famous authors of the time with whom he had friendships.
Life in Victorian times is well reflected. There are ever-changing displays, some featuring the sickness and disease which were so commonplace, and the famous names who helped to combat these – Darwin, Marie Curie, Florence Nightingale (as well as some unusual "cures"!), and some including collections of kitchen utensils and other domestic appliances – more mature visitors may recognise them! Of local interest are pictures of York House (where Smithson was born), and of his later homes, which Dickens visited - Easthorpe Hall (sadly destroyed in a fire in the 1960s) near Castle Howard, and Abbey House in Old Malton. There’s also a fascinating array of old maps and pictures of Malton in days gone by.
Small souvenirs are sold here – pens, key-fobs, fridge-magnets, greetings cards, badges and sometimes hand-made peg dolls - and there are free humbugs!
Chancery Lane (YO17 7HW) runs between Yorkersgate and the Market Place. The museum is open on Saturdays (and occasional special-event days) from 10.00am to 1.00pm, from May through to October. It can also be opened for private visits by groups or school parties.
Entry is free, but we do invite contributions to help with the rent and other running costs.