What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
THE HOME OF CHARLES DICKENS
=How to get there.=–Train from Victoria or Holborn Viaduct. South-Eastern and Chatham Railway. =Nearest Station.=–Rochester. (Gad’s Hill lies 1-1/2 miles from Rochester). =Distance from London.=–31 miles. =Average Time.=–Varies between 1 and 1-1/2 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 5s. 4d. 3s. 4d. 2s. 8d. Return 9s. 4d. 6s. 8d. 5s. 4d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–At Rochester–"King’s Head Hotel," “Royal Victoria Hotel,” “Bull Hotel,” “Royal Crown Hotel,” etc. =Alternative Route.=–Train from Charing Cross, Cannon Street, or London Bridge. South-Eastern and Chatham Railway.
Mr. Latham, the present occupier, kindly admits visitors on Wednesday afternoons.
Lovers of Charles Dickens naturally have a pleasure in seeing the places near Rochester so familiar to them through his works. A mile and a half from this ancient city with its cathedral and castle is Gad’s Hill Place, where the great author resided from 1856 till the day of his death in 1870. When Dickens was a small boy the house had always a curious interest for him, for he thought it the most beautiful house he had ever seen. His father, then living in Rochester, used to bring him to look at it, and used to tell the little fellow that if he grew up to be a clever man he might own that or another such house. Gad’s Hill Place is a comfortable old-fashioned house, built, it is said, about 1775. Facing it is a shrubbery containing huge cedars. This was connected with the grounds opposite by an underground passage still existing, and here Dickens erected a châlet given to him by his friend Mr. Fechter, in which he worked till the time of his sudden death. Gad’s Hill had a peculiar fascination for Dickens, for it was on the highway there that he obtained his wonderful insight into the character and manners of the various tramps and showmen he portrays in his books.
Dickens liked nothing better than taking his friends over this district. He thought the seven miles between Rochester and Maidstone one of the most beautiful walks in England. Dickens would compress into infinitely few days an enormous amount of sight-seeing and country enjoyment: castles, cathedrals, lunches and picnics among cherry orchards and hop-gardens.
[Illustration: Photochrom Co., Ltd. GAD’S HILL PLACE, NEAR ROCHESTER.
The home of Charles Dickens.]