Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum

Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum

Hampshire

Charles Dickens

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Fans of Charles Dickens can visit the South East with ‘great expectations’, with so much of his life played out in cities like Rochester in Kent and Portsmouth in Hampshire.

Charles Dickens was born on 7th February 1812, not in a ‘bleak house’ but in a cosy terraced house in Portsmouth. Now the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum, you can see the room where he was born and the couch on which he died in 1870.  The Dickens trail takes you on an 8 mile wander around the city of Portsmouth visiting buildings, resting places, statues linked with the author.  

It is believed that Charles Dickens began his David Copperfield novel whilst he was renting Winterbourne, Bonchurch near Ventnor on the Isle of Wight in 1849. He wrote to his wife “It is the prettiest place I ever saw in my life.”

It is also believed that he wrote 'Dombey & Son and Bleak House whilst staying at the Bedford Hotel in Brighton, now the Holiday Inn Brighton-Seafront, King's Road.  A blue plaque can be seen today at the entrance to the hotel.

Charles Dickens' connections with Kent

One of his most colourful characters was Betsy Trotwood from David Copperfield, who was based on Miss Mary Pearson Strong. Charles Dickens often visited her in Broadstairs, Kent.  Her home is now the Dickens House Museum.

Restoration House in Rochester, Kent was used by Charles Dickens as the home of Miss Haversham in Great Expectations. The house is so named because King Charles II stayed there on his way to reclaim England's throne, an event known as the Restoration.

Rochester would feature in many of Charles Dickens books; wander down the Victorian High Street and you’ll feel like you have stepped into the pages of The Pickwick Papers, The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Great Expectations.

Dickens World in Rochester is now closed, but do look out for Dickensian events in Kent such as the Christmas Market and Dickens Festival (June) in Rochester.

Other links around the South East include The White Horse in Dorking, Surrey, which once played host to Charles Dickens, who took up residence whilst writing the Pickwick Papers in the mid-19th century.

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