10 AM to 5 PM (Tue-Sun); Closed (Mon); Last entry 1 hour before closing
Adults £9.00; Children £4.00 (6-16); Infants free (under-6)
1-1½ hours (approx)
Charles Dickens MuseumCraigEasy to get to? ★ ★ ★Good for kids? ★ ★ ★Value for money? ★ ★ ★Worth a visit? ★ ★ ★203
I went to the Charles Dickens Museum today, which wasn't bad at all. I can't say I'm a real fan of Dickens... I've never read any of his books. I'm the kind of guy who still reads The Beano -- that is my level. I watched Jim Carrey's animated movie of "A Christmas Carol" last year, and I vaguely remember the "Oliver!" musical from my youth, but that's about it. So when it comes to Dickens I'm much like the next man -- I know who he is, and what he wrote, but don't ask me to explain the plot of "Pickwick Papers" because I won't have a clue. So why bother going to the museum?
I went to another museum like this last year -- Dr Johnson's House. That was all about another London writer, Samuel Johnson -- but I found that place pretty dry and boring. So why did I enjoy this place? I think it's because there's so much more to see. Dr Johnson's House was basically just a load of empty rooms, with a few tables and chairs and a bookcase or two. But there's wasn't much of Johnson's personal stuff on show. The Charles Dickens Museum is chockablock with his personal possessions and mementoes. And the house is pretty plush too. When I think of Dickens I always think of debtors prisons and workhouses, and scruffy little street urchins. But judging by his Bloomsbury townhouse Dickens must have been loaded! It's packed full of four-poster beds, pianos, comfy armchairs and oil paintings above the fireplace.
When you enter the front door you are given a little pamphlet-style book, which you are supposed to read whilst you're walking around the house. There's no audio-guide, which is unusual for a place like this, but the book is perfectly alright. It tells you what each room was used for, and there are some extra little placards dotted around the place to point out items of interest. You get to see the whole house from top to bottom, including the kitchen and bathroom in the basement (or whatever they used to call it in those days -- where they used to keep the big tin tub). They've made an effort to bring the rooms alive as well -- the washtub room has got a line of dirty laundry hanging from the ceiling, for example, and in the comfy lounge you can hear a Dickens novel being played out the speaker -- as if he was in the room reading. There are a couple of rooms upstairs with four-poster beds in, and the reception rooms and study are furnished with his bookcase and writing desk. Glass cabinets display interesting little extras like his letters, writings and shaving kit. They've even got a lock of his hair and a letter he wrote to his doctor complaining of a dodgy downstairs (if you get my drift). The top of the house has a couple of rooms in a more-modern style, showcasing a few bits of Dickens memorabilia. They've got a genuine window from his old house (said to be the inspiration for Oliver Twist's burglary scene), and some iron bars from Marshalsea prison, where they locked up his dad for not paying his debts.
Even if you don't care too much about Dickens (like me), I think I would still recommend giving it a go. It's nice to have a little walk around Bloomsbury as well -- a pleasant part of town that still looks like Ye Olde London.
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Have you been here? Are you going? Got any questions?
I am the front of house staff on the weekend at the Charles Dickens Museum. I am very pleased that you enjoyed your visit to the Museum and I'm pleased you thought it was good enough to write about online. I just started my own Blog on Blogger about what happens at the weekends and just general stuff about the museum. I was just wondering if I was to write a blog entry about your website wether you would do the same for mine? my blog is http://tillyatthecharlesdickensmuseum.blogspot.co.uk/
From the author: “The good thing about this book is that I have genuinely been to all of these places myself. And I don’t just regurgitate the same old spiel that you find in 95% of guidebooks. It’s not the kind of book where I just tell you the address, how much it costs, and leave it at that. I have explored every single one of these attractions myself. You’ll find info about opening times, prices, the recommended time required at each attraction, example itineraries, a guide to using the buses and trains… and plenty more.”