Building an emotional connection with Charles Dickens’ only surviving London home

PLB was the obvious choice when 48 Doughty Street in King’s Cross needed to cement its relationship with the public.

As home to the Charles Dickens Museum, and Dickens’ only surviving London residence, 48 Doughty Street needed guidance and support for a round two NLHF bid. It also required an interpretive approach that would increase physical, sensory and intellectual access for visitors.

That’s where our specialist knowledge, experience and understanding allowed us to make all the difference.

Bringing the story to life

Dickens began his married and family life at 48 Doughty Street, in the city which influenced his writing. Upon securing NLHF funding, we worked with the client team, historic house specialists, conservation architects and an access consultant, to develop the perfect approach.

By focusing on the family home and the life of Dickens, our aim was to create a place of relevance for today’s families.

Our involvement included:

  • Round two NLHF bid support, to maximise the chances of a successful bid outcome, keep communications open, and ensure the funding cycle went according to plan
  • Interpretive planning, of this Grade I Listed building, to develop all themes, messages and stories that would connect with visiting families
  • Creative scheme design and visitor orientation, recreating fully accessible period rooms, which incorporated furniture, art and objects from the museum’s collection
  • Script editing, to create human connections, inspire action and build narratives around the artefacts, collections and surroundings
  • Interactive lighting design and atmospheric sound, to immerse visitors in the ambience of the home, from the basement kitchens through the public spaces to the private bedrooms
  • Graphic design and interpretation, to subtly integrate information into the rooms through use of printing on crockery and wallpaper as well as replicas of the monthly parts, in which Dickens’ works were first published
  • Exhibition display and showcase production, to present items clearly, securely and appropriately, conveying the museum’s story in meaningful ways
  • Project management, site supervision and signoff, to ensure all aspects of the project were delivered on time, to spec and in budget

All this effort has culminated in a real sense of Dickens the man, the writer and the social climber. Now visitors can build an emotional connection with him as a young man, and explore his family life, health and relationships.

Stepping inside the mind and times of Dickens

From day one, this project has been a tremendous success. During the first month of reopening, 48 Doughty Street achieved in excess of 10,000 visitors, a 135% increase on previous years.

With a combination of an engaging family-friendly tour and a supporting exhibition, which includes a timeline and virtual tour in the adjoining house, every intricate detail has been taken into account. Working together, we have provided context to the visitor experience, bringing together learning, family activities and research facilities.

For an opportunity to explore the inspirations and inner workings of Dickens’ mind, why not take a closer look at 48 Doughty Street?

10,000+ visitors in the first month, a 135% increase on previous years

Charles Dickens Museum

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