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Guildhall events will bring past to life

Picture - Gerald Dickens, the Signalman. CREDIT: Lewis J Brockway

TWO forthcoming events at Leicester’s historic Guildhall promise to bring the past to life.

On Sunday (29 May), at 2pm, a talk by renowned author Leanda De Lisle will take place, entitled Henrietta Maria: The Queen behind the Black Legend. On the anniversary of the 1645 Siege of Leicester – when royalists stormed the city during the Civil War - the talk will explain why King Charles I’s wife is one of British history’s most reviled queens.

Damned in her lifetime as ‘that Popish brat of France’, Henrietta Maria is remembered as frivolous and fanatical, the wife who ‘turned Charles I Catholic’ and paved the way for civil war.

Today, Leanda de Lisle will look behind the black legend to reveal a remarkable woman of great wit and intelligence. A friend to many Puritans, she was respected even by her enemies, survived wars and eventually flourished as Britain's Phoenix Queen. 

Tickets cost £4.50 and booking is recommended on this link: Henrietta Maria – Leicester Museums

On Friday 10 June, at 7.30pm, there’s a unique opportunity to experience a Dickensian classic, as performed by Charles Dickens’ great-great grandson, Gerald Dickens.

Gerald Dickens - The Day That Charles Dickens Nearly Died, featuring ‘The Signalman’ is a brand new show detailing the events that inspired Dickens’ novella, ‘The Signalman’. It will tell the story of the great Staplehurst rail crash of 9 June, 1865, when Charles Dickens was a passenger on the tidal train from Folkestone to London as it crashed off a bridge, killing 10 people and injuring 40 more. The great author was fortunate to escape with his life and spent three hours assisting the rescue effort.

Gerald Dickens has written a book about the crash and will be appearing at The Guildhall sharing his research into the circumstances which led to the tragedy. Gerald will also perform the haunting Gothic ghost story The Signalman in the atmospheric surroundings of the Guildhall. Written just a year after the crash, it was certainly inspired by Charles Dickens’ experiences.

Booking is recommended and tickets cost £10/£8 concessions on this link: Gerald Dickens – Leicester Museums

To book for either event, you can also call the Guildhall Box Office on 0116 253 2569 or visit


 Picture - Gerald Dickens, the Signalman. CREDIT: Lewis J Brockway