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Charles Dickens: Top 5 places to visit

21 January 2016 ( 21 January 2016 )

From his birthplace to his final resting place, five must-sees for fans of Charles Dickens.

Charles Dickens Museum, 48 Doughty Street
Dickens' drawing room at 48 Doughty Street. Copyright: Charles Dickens Museum. Siobhan Doran Photography

Portsmouth: Charles Dickens’ birthplace

Start your day where the Charles Dickens’ legacy began.  Visit his birthplace, which has been transformed into a Dickens museum at 1 Mile End Terrace, renamed 393 Commercial Road, Landport, Portsea Island.

Then make your way to Portsmouth’s historic dockyard for a guided Dickens walking tour, passing a life-size statue of the man himself, built in 2014.

Tip: Try to visit on the first Sunday of the month (between April and September) to hear Dickens-style readings of his work, from 3pm onwards, at the museum.

Medway: Dickens’ childhood home

A collection of towns in Medway, northern Kent, is famous for its association with Charles Dickens.

As a child Dickens lived at 2 Ordnance Terrace, Chatham, and many years later he returned to Rochester, buying Gads Hill estate, where he wrote A Tale of Two Cities (1859) and Great Expectations (1861). He died there in 1870.

Before travelling to Rochester, visit Dickens World, an interactive time portal to Victorian times in the Chatham Historic Dockyard, where Dickens’ father worked as a navy port officer.

Tip: Try to visit Medway in December to experience its full glory for the Dickens Festival in Rochester. 

Southwark: Dickens’ teenage home

This south London Borough was home to the author through his teenage years. With his father condemned to Marshalsea prison, the area was the backdrop to his childhood and he drew on this for his novel Little Doritt.

Just down the street from Marshalsea is St Georges the Martyr or “Little Doritt’s Church”. Not only is it a beautiful building but it is also featured multiple times in the novel and has a portrait of the lead character designed into the church’s east window. 

Tip: Also in the area is The George, the only surviving coach inn in Britain, which has maintained its Victorian feel and displays Dickens’ life insurance policy at the bar.

48 Doughty Street: Charles Dickens’ home in London

The place where Dickens wrote Oliver Twist and the only one of his many homes in London that is still preserved.

Make a day of it by visiting the house, which is now a museum, beautifully managed gardens and café.

Tip: In honour of the new BBC drama Dickensian the museum has created a behind-the-scenes exhibit, with incredible costumes and the largest set created for British television.

Westminster City: Dickens’ resting place

On a slightly more sombre note, to see the grave of one of Britain’s greatest writers, head to Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Tip: While in central London you could also take the opportunity to visit the V&A Museum to see manuscripts and first editions of Dickens’ work. 


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.