CHARLES Dickens' A Christmas Carol is arguably the most famous Christmas story of all time.

Since it was first published in 1843, countless versions of the tale have been produced, with the likes of Bill Murray, The Muppets and Jim Carey all getting involved.

Perhaps the most well known moment in the story is protagonist Ebenezer Scrooge, having had his life changed by three ghosts, leaning out of his window and shouting at a boy in a snowy London street: "What's today?”

“Christmas Day, of course!” is the famous reply.

However, few people realise that London wasn't the setting that Dickens had in mind when he penned A Christmas Carol.

In fact, the author's inspiration for his festive story can be found in Yorkshire, with Scrooge based on a young lawyer from the town.

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Before he made his money as a writer, Dickens worked for a solicitors' firm in London, where he met Charles Smithson, with whom he became good friends.

While staying with Smithson at his home in Malton, near York, he wrote A Christmas Carol, based on the town and the people he was staying with.

The Telegraph explained: "[Dickens] had already created some of the characters but he was looking for a stage to set them on.

"And local legend has it that it was in his friend’s tiny office that he decided to place Scrooge and Bob Cratchit, and the single coal burning in the grate.

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"With such inspiration he published the novel in December 1843, and it was, of course, an enormous success."

Today Malton is a small market town, described as "Yorkshire's food capital".

Its narrow streets are home to plenty of local independent food and drink producers, as well as pubs, cafes and restaurants.

It regularly hosts food festivals and "foodie marathons" in its market place, while cooking courses in the town ensure that the next generation will be able to uphold its tasty traditions.

The Visit Malton website reads: "Malton is a town passionate about artisan producers, independent shops and great places to taste the delicious food and drink.

"With superb local, farm to fork produce & exciting events, Malton is proud to be known as Yorkshire’s Food Capital."

The historical importance of the town goes beyond inspiring Charles Dickens, with the award-winning Eden Camp Modern History Theme Museum built in a former World War II prisoner of war camp. claims visitors to the museum can "step back in time and experience the sights and sounds of wartime Britain".

The attraction picked up a TripAdvisor traveller's choice award this year, due to the high praise it consistently receives from people who have been.

Visitors to Malton can step even further back in history, with a trip to Wharram Percy deserted medieval village.

Considered one of the largest and best preserved of Britain's 3,000 or so known deserted medieval villages, the village was used for 600 years before it was eventually abandoned in the 16th century.

The village's church has "substantial" remains, while the outlines of its houses can also been seen on a grassy plateau.

Back in Malton, there's little indication of the influence it had on Dickens and his Christmas story, but there is a very rare copy of the book, safely stored in the Talbot Hotel.

Shortly after it was published, its muse Charles Smithson died of tuberculosis.

Dickens gave a signed copy to his widow, Elizabeth Smithson, which was bought at auction by residents of Malton for £20,270, after it had been rescued from a dustbin outside a house in New England, USA.

A night in the Talbot can be booked from £100 per night for two, while other accommodation in the town can be found from around £86 per night.

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Meanwhile, this town is described as the "most magical" in England.

And another UK town has been nicknamed the "new Berlin".

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