Charles Dickens, one of the most popular English authors, was born 200 years ago. To celebrate the bicentenary of his birth, exhibitions and attractions are organised throughout the UK, but why not take a Dickensian holiday to discover some of the places where the author lived or follow in the footsteps of his most famous characters?
It all started on 7 February 1812 at Landport, in Portsea and that is exactly where you should start the holiday. The Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum is the house where Dickens was born, which was redecorated to match what it may have looked 200 years ago and contains memorabilia. For more information: www.charlesdickensbirthplace.co.uk
The next stop on this Dickensian holiday is Kent, where he spent many years of his life. The Dickens House Museum is the house of Miss Mary Pearson Strong, who inspired the character of Miss Betsey Trotwood in “David Copperfield”. It contains memorabilia, Victorian furniture and several Charles Dickens’ letters. For more information: www.dickensfellowship.org/branches/broadstairs
There is a lot to see here. First, the Guildhall Museum exhibits items related to Charles Dickens and is open 10am-4.30pm, Tuesday to Sunday (free admission). Another interesting place to visit is his Swiss Chalet, which was moved from Gad’s Hill. If you go in May-June, don’t miss the Dickens Festival with costumed characters! For more information: www.rochesterdickensfestival.org.uk
Go for a walk in town and discover some places mentioned in many of his novels. Head towards the Cathedral, or Restoration House, the inspiration for Satis House in “Great Expectations”. If time permits, continue your holiday in the village of Chalk, where you can admire the old forge that was the basis for Joe Gargery’s cottage. Also, have a look at Craddocks Cottage, where Dickens spent his honeymoon.
Many more interesting things are awaiting you in the capital, where Charles Dickens lived for many years. He mentions numerous landmarks in several of his books and the best place to start is The Charles Dickens Museum in Doughty Street, Holborn, which is the only of his London houses that is still intact. For more information: www.dickensmuseum.com
The Victoria and Albert Museum contains some of the original manuscripts of many Charles Dickens’ novels, which is worth seeing for any book lover. For more information: www.vam.ac.uk/page/c/charles-dickens. Finally, the Museum of London is holding an exhibition, “Dickens and London”until 10 June 2012. For more information: www.museumoflondon.org.uk
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