Charles Dickens Museum review
Visit London Drum’s YouTube channel for more videos
Charles Dickens seems to have moved house every five minutes, but the Charles Dickens Museum is the only London one left. It's from a time when he was still making a name for himself. He worked on The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby here, but was still years away from creating A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield and Great Expectations. He would have seen himself as successful, but he wasn't the superstar writer that he later became. He was good. But he wasn't yet great.
Everybody who writes about London wishes he was Charles Dickens. I would have loved to have been him, simply to have seen London before the Blitz -- before the Victorians started clearing the slums. For every great building they put up (and to be fair, they did put up plenty), they demolished plenty more.
His house is the total opposite of what you imagine when you think of Dickens. He was sympathetic to the deserving poor on paper, but living in a very comfortable townhouse. The dining room is dressed as if for Sunday dinner, with silver plate and tablecloths, and you've got a morning room with pictures and portraits hanging on the walls. His wife was certainly a pretty thing if her picture is anything to go by. Dickens is dressed more like a dandy with his floppy hair.
If you head down the creaky stairs to the basement then you can see the old kitchen complete with pottery bowls and a pump-style tap. The table's just a solid slab with pork pies and pastries and chunks and hunks of bread and cheese. They've got a little washroom with linen swinging from a string on the ceiling. There was no running hot water in those days -- just a log fire under the sink.
The first floor is where he had his drawing room and gloomy study. You can see his desk and books and bookcases where he locked himself away. Across the hall is where he entertained his guests and did a few readings from a self-designed podium. I like the way they're reciting his lines out of the speakers -- like he's actually in there reading them himself. A lot of house museums don't bother with details like that, but I think it really helps to bring the place alive.
The next floor up has two bedrooms where Dickens and his missus and his sister-in-law slept. It's all very posh -- four poster beds and dressing tables with lamps and candles, and plenty of ephemera like his shaving kit and his wife's perfume bottles.
The top floor was where the servants slept, but they've decided to strip it out and fill it with a little exhibition -- it's just a couple of books and pictures of Dickens as a rather foppish-looking kid. They've salvaged an old attic window from his childhood home and got hold of a prison grille from Marshalsea Prison, where his dad was banged up for debt.
If you're a fan of Dickens then it's a total no-brainer: you need to visit this house. And if you just want to see how a well-to-do Victorian lived then it's also worth a try.
Have you been here? Are you going?Ask a question, or write your own review
Keep up-to-date: Read new reviews by email If you sign up to my mailing list you’ll receive one email every time I write a new post (and that’s all – I won’t send anything else). The frequency of my posts varies, but it’s usually once a week
Have you seen my London book?
Honest reviews of London’s landmarks and attractions
Money saving tips things to do for free and cheap days out
Useful information with opening times, prices, photos, maps
Read my review:
No.15 heritage bus
Have you ever seen one of those No.15 heritage buses they keep running for the bus spotters? I'm on one from the Tower o… more
Read my review:
Charles Dickens Museum
Charles Dickens seems to have moved house every five minutes, but the Charles Dickens Museum is the only London one left… more
Read my review:
Princess Diana Memorial Fountain
Some people believe she was stuck in a loveless marriage, shunned by the Royal Family and hounded by a relentless press.… more
Read my review:
Club Quarters St. Paul's
I quite liked the Club Quarters St. Paul's when I first entered the room, but I've cooled on it now that I've been here… more
Get an Oyster for the cheapest fares The easiest way to travel in London
> Save money Get the cheapest fares on London transport
> Easy to use Pay as you go credit on the buses, boats and underground trains
Save some money with London Pass Cheap entry into London attractions
> Save money Free or discounted entry into top attractions
> Save time Jump the longest queues with Fast Track entry