LUXURY TRAVELER

Young Charles Dickens

Let's All Have a Dickens of a Time in 2012

The Life of Charles Dickens

 In 1812, Charles was born in Portsmouth to John and Elizabeth Dickens. The house has now been set up as a museum, with the furnishings styled around the early 1800s. After three years, the family had to move to London due to the job of Charles' father. Find out more about Dickens in Portsmouth.

Whilst in London, Dickens was sent to work in a blacking factory, but later became a law court reporter and journalist. It was through this job that he spent most of his time gathering ideas for his novels. The Dickens Museum in London is the only surviving London home of Dickens. It was opened as a museum in 1925 and displays rare edition books, original furniture, paintings and other items of Charles Dickens. Find out more about the London Dickens Museum.

 

 

 

 

 


From 1817 - 1822, Charles Dickens resided in Chatham, Kent. It was here that he found the inspiration for Dullborough in ‘The Uncommercial Traveller' and also Mudfog in ‘The Mudfog Papers'. For a short while, Dickens and his family lived in Ordnance Terrace.

It was at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham, that Charles' father John clerked the Royal Navy pay office. Charles Dickens often used to take regular river trips with his father on the Naval Pay Yacht from Chatham. Create your own Dickens experience on a river boat trip with Paddle Steamer Kingswear Castle, which departs from the dockyard. Dickens World at Chatham Maritime offers exciting interpretations of Dickensian lifestyles and characters - a definite must see for all followers of Dickens.

 

 

 

 

Dickens often walked along Rochester High Street with his father, where he gained most of his motivation and ideas for two of his novels - Pickwick Papers and the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood.

The Guildhall in Rochester is where Pip was an apprentice in Great Expectations. Today, the Guildhall is a museum of the history of Rochester, including a Dickens Discovery Room. Visit Rochester Castle to discover the unique bird's eye view of Pip's hometown and the fictional town of Cloisterham found in the mystery of Edwin Drood. In the gardens of Eastgate House (Westgate House in Pickwick Papers), the Swiss Chalet that Dickens received as a present from his friend Charles Fechter, can be seen. It is believed that Dickens used this Chalet for study and writing.

From 1856, Dickens lived in Higham, just 3 miles from Rochester in a Georgian Home, Gad's Hill Place until he died in 1870. This is now a school, which regularly holds open days for Dickens enthusiasts to look round and discover more.

One of Dickens' favourite walks, in his free time, was to Cobham Hall and Park. As this is now a grammar school for girls, it is open to the public on occasional open days. Near the hall, at the Leather Bottle Inn, Cobham village, Dickens often performed readings of his most recent work. The inn features in Dickens' ‘Pickwick Papers'.

Dickens used Gravesend as a popular departure point for emigrants. From this location, David Copperfield said goodbye to emigrating friends, and Pip (Great Expectations) helped Magwich in an attempt to escape the country. It is thought that Dickens also decided to spend his honeymoon in Chalk, Gravesend.

Canterbury also inspired the novels of Dickens. Both the Cathedral Gate Hotel and the Sun Hotel and tea rooms in Canterbury, say they are the original fictional establishment for Dickens. The House of Agnes is where Mr. Wickfield lived in ‘David Copperfield', and has now been refurbished as a hotel.

Dickens loved to spend his holidays in Broadstairs. He spent almost every summer there from 1837-1859, to breathe in the fresh sea air and write his legendary stories. It was here where he wrote Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, The Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge. He was known to have stayed in the Royal Albion Hotel which overlooks Viking Bay, where he finished the David Copperfield novel.

 

The Dickens House Museum in Broadstairs once belonged to his friend Mary Pearson Strong. It now has a recreation of Betsy Trotwood's parlour with old letters, memorabilia, and costumes on display.

Broadstairs celebrates the Dickens festival each year and welcomes all on the Turner and Dickens walk between Margate harbour and Broadstairs seafront.

Dickens Events 2011-12

Throughout the Garden of England, a variety of different activities are being planned in the lead up to 2012,  in order to celebrate Charles Dickens' Bicentenary. Why not join us, and travel back in time to experience the county that Dickens worked in, lived in, and loved so much?

November 2011

12 November 2011: Charles Dickens: His Life and Times
Come along to the beautiful Ightham Mote and listen to this fascinating talk by Lee Ault exploring the life of Dickens, and outlining the events that made him the person he became. This one-hour lecture is followed by a two course dinner in the Mote Restaurant. The event runs from 4pm-7pm and booking is essential. Please ring 01732 810378 ext 100 for more information.

20th November: Show at Woodville Hall in Gravesend
On Christmas Eve, the most magical night of the year, the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is whisked away on a terrifying journey through the past and into the future, accompanied by three fearsome ghosts determined to make him realize the true meaning of Christmas. Charles Dickens' classic ghost story is brought alive in this most traditional of productions, complete with beautiful period costume, song, dance and a magnificent, original musical score. Join critically acclaimed theatre company Chapterhouse as Scrooge's frozen heart begins to melt and he finally embraces the festive spirit in this most Christmassy of Christmas tales.

  

December

3rd - 4th December: Dickensian Christmas Festival in Rochester
Each year, the first weekend of December brings Victorian festivities to Rochester in the form of a Dickensian Christmas, where you can experience street entertainment, readings, songs and dance. You'll be captivated by Dickens' characters as you explore the literary journey that was the great writer's life. Each day there are parades through Rochester and the magnificent surroundings of Rochester Cathedral and Castle and guaranteed snowfall creates a charming scene!

30th Nov - 18th Dec: Dickens Christmas Market in Rochester Castle
Set in the beautiful grounds of Kent's Rochester Castle, overlooking the River Medway and just a few steps from Rochester's picture-postcard Victorian High Street, you can enjoy a truly festive atmosphere - traditional Christmas trees filled with twinkling fairy lights, the smell of roasted chestnuts and glühwein. Discover an array of wonderful German 'style' Christmas market huts selling a range of Christmas gifts, hand-crafted goods and festive fayre. In addition to all of this, street entertainers and Dickensian characters mingle amongst the revellers, whilst bands, and carol singers entertain visitors to the market.


The market is open Wednesday to Sunday and closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

2012

January

22nd January: A Celebration of Charles Dickens with Robert Powell and Friends at Woodville Hall in Gravesend
A celebration of the extraordinary and unique world of one of the best-loved authors of all time. Through the writings and letters of the author himself, together with those of his friends and contemporaries, we trace his fascinating life, illuminated by some of the funniest scenes in all literature as well as some of the most moving, embracing the romantic and the grotesque, the satirical and the macabre. They'll bring to life Dickens' universally loved characters, from Mr. Pickwick, Mr. Micawber and Mrs. Nickleby, to Mrs. Gamp, Uriah Heep and Scrooge. And we reveal Dickens the celebrity, the social reformer, the actor, the entrepreneur, and, above all, Dickens the supreme entertainer.

February

5th - 11th February: Celebrating Dickens in Rochester and Chatham
A whole range of wonderful celebrations are planned by the Rochester and Chatham Dickens fellowships. They include an opening parade, a Traditional Pantomime at the Britannia Theatre in Dickens World, a celebration at St Mary's Churchyard and a Dickens cream tea in Gun Warf, Chatham. Also planned is Bicentenary Dinner at Leather Bottle, Cobham and 'Dickensian Have Talent' at the Brook Theatre.

4th - 11th February: Guided walk/tour in Chalk with the Historic Trust
Chalk's major claim to fame is its connection with Charles Dickens. Here he spent his honeymoon with his new bride, Catherine Hogarth; and it was here that he wrote the early installments of Pickwick Papers. He also used the old forge in the village as a model for Joe Gargery's cottage in Great Expectations. The building still stands as a historically listed building.

 

March

22nd March: Gerald Dickens at the Woodville Theatre in Gravesend
Gerald Dickens is a great, great grandson of the author, Charles Dickens. He has worked as an actor, director and producer for many years. In 1993 he created his first one-man show, a theatrical performance of "A Christmas Carol" inspired by Charles' own energetic readings of the 1860s. A fascination with the life and works of his subject led him to write and direct further one-man shows including 'Mr. Dickens is Coming!', 'Nicholas Nickleby' and 'Sketches by Boz'. He regularly performs in major theatres and arts centres.

May

Discover Gravesham Festival
Highlighting the wealth of history that Gravesham has to offer the Festival this year will have a strong Dickens theme. It will run throughout May.

27th May: Tour of Honey Moon Village with the Chalk Parish Historic Trust
Find out more about Dickens' life and works with the weatrherboard Craddock's Cottage thought by some to be Dickens honeymoon cottage.

June

Gravesham Walking Festival
This year it will have a strong Dickens theme!

8th - 10th June: Medway Dickens Festival
A spectacular event of colour, costume and entertainment. Thousands of visitors soak up the Victorian atmosphere, while parades make their way through central historic Rochester each day Newly commissioned theatrical and creative content planned to mark the bicentenary in Rochester.

16th - 22nd June: Broadstairs Dickens Festival
Charles Dickens visited Broadstairs in Kent regularly from 1837 until 1859 and immortalized the town as "Our English Watering Place". In 1937, to commemorate the centenary of the author's first visit, Gladys Waterer, the then owner of Dickens House, conceived the idea of putting on a production of 'David Copperfield' and of having people about the town in Victorian dress to publicize it. Thus the festival was born and, with the exception of the years of World War II, has been held annually in the third week of June ever since.

24th June: Chalk church will be open with the Chalk Parish Historic Trust
Chalk's major claim to fame is its connection with Charles Dickens. Here he spent his honeymoon with his new bride, Catherine Hogarth; and it was here that he wrote the early installments of 'The Pickwick Papers'. He also used the old forge in the village as a model for Joe Gargery's cottage in 'Great Expectations'. The building still stands as a historically listed building

November / December

28th November - 16 December: Dickens Christmas Market in Rochester Castle
Set in the beautiful grounds of Kent's Rochester Castle, overlooking the River Medway and just a few steps from Rochester's picture-postcard Victorian High Street, you can enjoy a truly festive atmosphere - traditional Christmas trees filled with twinkling fairy lights, the smell of roasted chestnuts and glühwein. Discover an array of wonderful German 'style' Christmas market huts selling a range of Christmas gifts, hand-crafted goods and festive fayre. In addition to all of this, street entertainers and Dickensian characters mingle amongst the revelers, whilst bands, and carol singers entertain visitors to the market.

1st - 2nd December: Dickensian Christmas Festival in Rochester
Each year, the first weekend of December brings Victorian festivities to Rochester in the form of a Dickensian Christmas, where you can experience street entertainment, readings, songs and dance. You'll be captivated by Dickens' characters as you explore the literary journey that was the great writer's life. Each day there are parades through Rochester and the magnificent surroundings of Rochester Cathedral and Castle and guaranteed snowfall creates a charming scene!

 

Dickens Attractions

We have complied the top 10 Dickens destinations in Kent for all Dickens-lovers to explore! See the sites that he saw, walk the paths that he walked and be inspired yourself! There is also a Google Trail for you to plan your route.

Dickens World

Walk into the atmospheric, Victorian world of Charles Dickens, recreated just for you! Jump aboard the Great Expectations Boat Ride for a splash with Pip, experience a real Victorian School or take a look in The Haunted House of 1859 if you dare! Seize the chance to come face to face with Dickens' best loved characters in this magnificent rendition of a Victorian town courtyard; there's something for all of the family to enjoy!

Chatham Historic Dockyard

Charles Dickens' father, John, worked here and often brought a young Charles with him. This made a great impression on Dickens and he used the dockyard as a gloomy backdrop in many of his novels. The BBC adaptation of Little Dorrit was partly filmed here, as was the 2007 adaptation of Oliver Twist. There is a museum at the Dockyard offering fascinating information and talks on Dickens as well as general marine artifacts and reconstructed ships. This is a great, interactive attraction that will have something for everyone.

Gad's Hill Place

Gad's Hill Place was the country home of Charles Dickens, where he lived until his death in 1870. Dickens first saw the estate when he was nine years old and his father told him if he worked hard enough, he might one day own such a place. After he rocketed to success, Dickens heard it was up for sale and turned Gad's Hill into his country home, entertaining many of his literary friends such as Hans Christian Anderson and Wilkie Collins there. Now Gad's Hill is a school, but it can still be viewed clearly from the road and tours can be arranged.

The Guildhall

Once the town hall, Guildhall appears in Great Expectations as the establishment where Pip is bound as an apprentice. The building is now a museum and there are a number of rooms dedicated to Charles Dickens for you to sample, including a small recreation of his study containing items that once belonged to him. Immerse yourself in the Rochester of Dickens, watching a short film showing nearby literary sites and studying personal items from his past. This is an exciting, visual attraction that all ages will enjoy.

Dickens House Museum

This house was once the home of Miss Mary Pearson Strong, on whom Dickens based much of the character of Miss Betsey Trotwood in his novel David Copperfield on. It is now a museum containing memorabilia prints, costumes and Victoriana. Tours are available and Dickens' strong link with Broadstairs can be discovered in this fun, interactive museum.

Restoration House

This was Dickens' inspiration for the famous house of Miss Haversham in Great Expectations, where she sat dressed in her faded wedding gown before a cobwebbed feast of mouldy food. Approach it through Vines Park, just like Pip, and marvel at its superb structure and exquisite gardens. The house and gardens can be viewed on certain days of the year, for more information look at the website www.resorationhouse.co.uk

Marshland in Medway

Surrounding the river Medway in the area of Rochester are the marshlands that appear in Great Expectations, although they are described as around the Thames in the book. If you walk the Saxon Shore Way between Hoo and Upnor, you will get a great view of the creepy marshes and experience the same unease as Pip. You will also pass the old battery; Cockham Wood Fort, which will evoke the battery where Pip and Joe meet before Pip goes to seek his fortune in London.

Cooling Church

Cooling Church is the location of the famous opening scene from Great Expectations, where Pip visits the graves of his family. The little lozenge shaped graves which Pip stood beside can still be seen now. Visit this inspiring place, with the marshland all around you and experience the desolateness of Pip's life. This is a great, inexpensive way to get a slice of Dickens culture.

Eastgate House

In Dickens time, this was a girl's boarding school, but Dickens-lovers will recognize it as both Miss Twinkrton's school for young ladies in The Mystery of Edwin Drood and the Westgate House Seminary for young ladies in The Pickwick Papers. This was once the home of the Dickens Centre and is now a venue for weddings.

Dickens Countryside

Dickens 2012 is a great opportunity to explore the Kent Countryside!

Charles Dickens had a strong relationship with Kent and its landscape stating in a letter "I have many happy memories connected with Kent and am scarcely less interested in it than if I had been a Kentish man bred and born, and had resided in the county all my life."

As a keen walker, Dickens had a chance to explore the countryside around where he lived in Gad's Hill Place. He often walked to the picturesque village of Cobham and today visitors can enjoy peaceful walks through ancient woodland of Cobham Hall Estate recently acquired by the National Trust with far reaching views of the Thames. But don't forget to rest at the Leather Bottle pub, a favourite haunt of the author himself.

Describing a walk at Cobham Hall in ‘The Pickwick Papers', Dickens writes,
"A delightful walk it was: for it was a pleasant afternoon in June, and their way lay through a deep and shady wood, cooled by the light wind which gently rustled the thick foliage, and enlivened by the songs of the birds that perched upon the boughs. The ivy and the moss crept in thick clusters over the old trees, and the soft green turf overspread the ground like a silken mat."

Once part of the Cobham Hall Estate, Shorne Wood is a Site of Special Scientific Interest within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is now a country park with an eco-friendly visitor centre that the whole family can enjoy! Dickens described Shorne Wood as "where Wild Flowers mingle with the grass and the soft landscape around forms the fairest spot in the Garden of England."

Close by but strikingly different is the North Kent Marshes, providing some of the most unspoilt landscapes in Kent and rich in wildlife. The remote village of Cooling, St James' Church in its desolate location is evocative of the sinister atmosphere of the opening pages of Charles Dickens's ‘Great Expectations'. The churchyard is believed to be the setting for the first encounter of his hero Pip with the convict Magwitch.

Scarcely a day went by that Dickens didn't flee his desk for some fresh air. He routinely walked as many as 20 miles a day, and once set out at 2 a.m. to walk from his house in London to his country residence in Gad's Hill, Kent, 30 miles away. He stated that "I have discovered that the seven miles between Maidstone and Rochester is one of the most beautiful walks in all England". Visitors can explore this route themselves as it forms part of the Medway Valley Way. The walk takes you from the historic city of Rochester starting at the Cathedral, through modern industrial landscapes and then beautiful rural villages along the Medway River, passing parts of the North Down Way you will then arrive at the county town of Maidstone.

If you are looking for a more leisurely stroll why not take a walk along the newly opened, 4 mile route between Turner's Margate and Dickens' Broadstairs? Much of the walk follows an ancient footpath between St Peter's and St John's churches. Start at Margate Harbour Arm next to the emerging Turner Contemporary Gallery or on Broadstairs promenade outside The Dickens House Museum.

And if you prefer to enjoy the Kent countryside in comfort there is always the train. Dickens was a fan of train travel until he was involved in a crash at Staplehurst Station. On one train journey down from London he describes the view, "The hop gardens turn gracefully towards me, presenting regular avenues of hops in rapid flight, then whirl away. So do pools and rushes, haystacks, sheep, clover in full bloom delicious to the sight and smell, corn sheaves, cherry-orchards, apple orchards, reapers, gleaners, hedges, gates, fields, that taper off into little angular corners, cottages, gardens, now and then a church."

 

With such a rich landscape it is no wonder Dickens said "Kent, Sir - Everybody knows Kent - apples, cherries, hops and women"

For further information on Kent Countryside visit Explore Kent or Kent Downs online.

http://www.dickensmuseum.com/

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