As we’re based close to Gravesend, its heritage and history are always a source of interest to us. With this in mind, we thought we’d take a quick trip down memory lane and shine a spotlight on the world-famous writer Charles Dickens and his links to the local area. So, for those who don’t already know, Dickens only lived a few miles down the road in Higham, Kent, where he owned Gad’s Hill Place.
They say it’s always a good idea to write about what you know and, as a local resident, Dickens did just that. If you’re a fan of his work, you may already know that Gravesend gets a mention in at least three of his novels:
- The Pickwick Papers – According to The Leather Bottle in Cobham, it was the location where Tupman, after being jilted by his sweetheart Rachel Wardle, drowned his sorrows in the company of Mr Pickwick. Dickens is also reported as being a frequent visitor to the pub and often stayed there, usually in room 2 or room 6.
- David Copperfield – In the book, Mr Peggotty, the Micawbers and Ham depart from Gravesend on their way to pastures new in Australia.
- Great Expectations – The book’s protagonist, Pip, rows Abel Magwitch from London to waylay a steamer (whilst underway in the Lower Hope, off Gravesend) bound for Hamburg.
A fondness for the local area
Dickens is known to have spent a great deal of time walking with his father in the area as a young boy. He was especially fascinated with Gad’s Hill Place and harboured dreams of owning it when he grew up. He also spent his honeymoon in nearby Chalk, Kent and eventually realised his dream of owning the property when he bought it in 1856 for the princely sum of £1,790. On top of that, he also acquired a patch of land across the road for £90 which was nicknamed ‘the wilderness’.
He was so fond of the area that he chose not to live anywhere else and eventually died there in 1870 following a brain haemorrhage. He’s reported to have had quite a few well-known visitors at his home near Gravesend including Hans Christian Andersen.
Normally, the 18th Century Grade I listed building is open to the public and if you visit, you can see Dickens’ study, conservatory, drawing room and the underground tunnel that led to the chalet he had built on “the wilderness” where he often retreated to write some of his novels.
About Keys 4 Cars
When we’re not delving into the local history of our area, we’re out and about rescuing stranded motorists and providing a fast, efficient and reliable car locksmith service throughout Medway and the rest of Kent.
Lead image by Robert William Buss, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.