Bolton School Senior Girls

What the Dickens!

Bolton School Girls' Division has today been celebrating the bicentenary of Charles Dickens' birth.  

When twelve year old Year 8 pupil Francesca Adams heard that pupils were being encouraged to dress as characters from Dickens' stories, she decided it would be even more fun to try and set a new Guinness World Record for the most people dressed as fictional characters.  She told her Form Teacher, who told the Headmistress and suddenly the Girls' Division was on a mission - the record to beat was 644 people, held by Chelmsford County High School! 

On the day, the majority of pupils from the Senior School and Sixth Form dressed up as Dickensian characters, as did members of staff and Year 6 of the Junior Girls' School. The girls gathered in their Great Hall for their morning assembly where official witnesses and stewards counted the participants.  It soon became clear that a new record was going to be set as the steward counted 739 participants. 

Francesca said: "It was very exciting to see everyone dressed up.  There were some fantastic costumes.  I got the idea from the Guinness World Records book that I got at Christmas.   I am thrilled that we have broken the record." 

To satisfy, the Guinness World Records (GWR) criteria, two independent witnesses and a steward were called in to officiate at the event.  Nigel Taggart, photographer at the Bolton News and Robert Berry, a local photographer, were the witnesses and local businessman Peter Hackin, Director of Silk Group Ltd, was the official steward.  The evidence will be sent to GWR for final verification.

Throughout the day, the girls celebrated the life of Charles Dickens and many lessons were themed around his work.  There were Dickens readings in assembly and the catering team served up gruel at lunch time. 

Sixth Former Ruth Brown, aged 17, said: "It is important to celebrate Dickens as he is one of the most influential writers there has ever been. The day will hopefully turn people on to Dickens who may not have read much of his work.  Through his writing he created some wonderful and well-loved characters.  I have been really enjoying the BBC's latest adaptation of Great Expectations.  The day has also been a great excuse to dress up.  I was so impressed with one girl's Miss Havisham costume, which included only wearing one shoe!" 

During the day pupils also received a visit from representatives from The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, who brought with them a puppy that has the nickname "The Artful Dodger".  They came in to congratulate the girls on raising enough funds to sponsor their second guide dog which will be called "Dickens". 

Mrs Theresa Sowerby, Head of English in the Girls' Division, said: "This is a chance to promote Dickens as an author who still has plenty to say to us today.  Corrupt bankers and the rich-poor divide didn't become history with the Victorians.  But most importantly, Dickens is a comic genius, a student of human nature and a fantastic story-teller."

You can view several galleries of photos recording the day:

Bolton School's gallery of photos

A gallery of photos of the day on the BBC website.

The Manchester Evening News gallery of photos.


The Dickens Assembly

739 pupils and members of staff dressed up as characters from Dickens' stories. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

The Chimney Sweep

Pupils put great efforts into producing their costumes

Francesca and friends

The record breaking attempt was conceived by 12 year old Francesca, pictured here with friends and teachers