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Dickens’ Gad’s Hill

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My life is being completely dominated by Olympic fever at the moment so it is difficult to write about anything else (especially after such a wonderful weekend of medal after medal for Team GB!). However, I am going to try! After a trip to the Olympic Park to see Hockey on Saturday (still sporting my patriotic nails and shoes!), we went to a rare opening of Gad’s Hill on Sunday. Gad’s Hill Place was Charles Dickens’ beloved house in the country and the place he died.

Gad's Hill Place

Gad’s Hill Place

 It was a very handsome house in its day and it is now a slightly eccentric school building. A particular highlight was seeing Dickens’ desk and chair – like the famous engraving, it seemed as if it was just waiting for him to return.
Dickens' desk

Dickens’ desk

Earlier this year, I read Claire Tomalin’s excellent biography of Dickens as I knew relatively little about him. I’d really recommend it as a very readable introduction to Dickens’ life. A picture of a complicated character emerged – not always terribly likeable, but certainly interesting. That book was very useful background for this visit as it helped me appreciate my visit to Gad’s Hill properly I think, knowing how important it was to him. A plaque on the wall outside his study was particularly poignant I thought.

Gad's Hill Place plaque

Gad’s Hill Place plaque

Dickens was proud of the house’s Shakespeare connections – Gad’s Hill is the site of Sir John Falstaff’s historic robbery and this leads me nicely onto my Shakespeare challenge for the remainder of the year… I mentioned in a previous post (here) that I was going to read one new (to me) Shakespeare play per month as there were significant gaps in my knowledge I feel I need to rectify. I am going to start with the history plays and so stay tuned for some more Falstaff in September!

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