When you imagine a Dickensian Christmas, what comes to mind? Austere surroundings? Dark, winding, lantern-lit London alleyways? Tiny Tim and Ebenezer Scrooge?
The Charles Dickens Museum opened its doors this week after the completion of a £3 million restoration and just in time for patrons to experience a true “Dickensian Christmas.” The 5-story house, located at 48 Doughty Street, was Charles Dickens’ home when he wrote Oliver Twist, Barnaby Rudge and Nicholas Nickleby. The restoration is exquisite, the rooms carefully curated and the house filled with items related to young Mr. Dickens and his family.
Personal artwork and family heirlooms are displayed in the dining room.
Much of what Charles Dickens wrote about was gleaned from his life, observations and experiences. This innocuous Wash House copper bowl usually held the washing, except for once a year when it was scrubbed and filled with Christmas pudding as it was in A Christmas Carol.
“Martha didn’t like to see him disappointed, if it were only in joke; so she came out prematurely from behind the closet door, and ran into his arms, while the two young Cratchits hustled Tiny Tim, and bore him off into the wash-house, that he might hear the pudding singing in the copper” A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
His personal effects; razor, moustache scissors and other toiletry items are encased in glass in his upstairs bedroom. I took dozens of pictures today, but only included a few rooms here. It’s tempting to post them all, but I think it a more personal and meaningful experience if you go and visit. As the Ghost of Christmas Present said …”Come in, and know me better,man!”
When you’ve finished the tour, make time to visit the tiny tea shop in the back of the house. You can have a cup of tea and make a list of Dickens’ novels you need to read and re-read. I had a cup of tea and toasted Mrs. Johnson, my 9th grade English teacher, who taught me to love them all.
The Museum is hosting a number of special Christmas events.
Dickensian Christmas Walks 10:30 to 12:30 and 5:15 to 7:15 (The night walk…very atmospheric after a museum visit, but both are excellent). £7 There is a special walk and museum visit package scheduled for Boxing Day (26 December).
A Christmas Carol with Michael Slater Highly recommended dramatic reading in perfect surroundings. Tuesday, 18 December 6:30 to 8:30 Tickets £12. Not suitable for children under 10. Tickets can be booked here.
A Very Dickensian Christmas December 24, 25 and 26th Minced pies, mulled wine, festive readings and classic film screenings. Highly advised to book ahead. 11am to 6pm (last entry at 5). Admission £18 adults, £8 children