Thursday, 13 October 2011

Where was Scrooge's office?

While Charles Dickens never tells us precisely where Ebenezer Scrooge's counting house was located, the clues in A Christmas Carol suggest it was in the City of London. The "City" refers to a particular area of London, the core of roughly one square mile (it is even called The Square Mile, colloquially) from which the capital historically grew. It was and continues to be the centre of finance and commerce in London.

We can guess this location partly because Scrooge is a trader, merchant or businessman of some sort, but also because Dickens mentions several parts of the City by name. St Paul's Cathedral, with its famous dome, is mentioned in Stave I, and on his way home to Camden Town, Bob Cratchit (we only know him as Scrooge's anonymous clerk at this stage) slides down Cornhill (a City street) on the ice. As Camden Town is several miles northwest of the City, Scrooge's offices would certainly be somewhere east or south of Cornhill.

Describing the immediate vicinity of the office (or warehouse), Dickens mentions a courtyard and "the ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell was always peeping slyly down at Scrooge out of a Gothic window in the wall." The church may well be St Michael's, Cornhill, on which basis the City of London's Dickens Walk identifies the exact site of Scrooge & Marley's as Newman's Court.

To see just how far Bob Cratchit would have run home from work (ran, and after 20 slides down Cornhill, no less), see this map of London from 1844. Cornhill is at roughly J5, where Camden Town is just to the right of the large green area (Regents Park) at E2, approximately.

Photo: John Salmon (licensed for reuse under Creative Commons)


  1. I agree with you about the location of Scrooge's counting house. Difficult to pinpoint it exactly but the clues in the book give us a pretty good idea. I once walked in Bob Cratchit's footsteps from Cornhill to Camden Town and it took me a little more than an hour. Wouldn't want to have to walk that distance every day to and from work.

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    1. There are also traditional ghost stories about the belfry in St. Michael's, Cornhill. The City of London is divided into 25 Wards and according to today's borders, Cornhill Thoroughfare is in Bread Street Ward.