Dickens House Museum in Broadstairs celebrates the 50th anniversary of its opening tomorrow (June 16).
The museum first opened to the public on 16 June, 1973 and to mark this year’s anniversary a new Dickens Town Trail has been produced.
What is now the Dickens House Museum was once the clifftop home of Mary Pearson Strong, an elderly spinster who Victorian author Charles Dickens knew well from his many visits to the town.
Whilst writing his eighth novel, David Copperfield, in Broadstairs in 1849 and 1850, he based much of the character of David’s great aunt Betsy on the eccentric Miss Strong, who chased away trespassing donkeys from her garden with an umbrella or broomstick.
The house, virtually unaltered since Dickens enjoyed tea in the parlour with Miss Strong, was left to the council in 1971 on the condition that it became a museum celebrating the novelist’s important links with Broadstairs. Two years later, on Saturday 16 June 1973, Dickens House was officially opened as a museum by the novelist’s great-grandson, Peter Dickens.
The trail highlights places where Dickens and his family stayed when visiting the town on holiday, the much-loved stories he wrote whilst here, along with photos showing how the town would have looked at this time.
The trail, which starts and ends at Dickens House Museum, includes several ‘Did you know?’ facts about the author and the town. It is approximately 1.2 miles long and takes around one hour to complete. Trail leaflets are available at Dickens House Museum.
Visitors to the museum can see items that once belonged to Dickens, including letters written about Broadstairs, his writing box and mahogany sideboard along with a fine collection of prints by HK Browne (Phiz), one of Dickens’ principal illustrators. There is also a feature on ‘Our English Watering Place’, which Dickens wrote in 1851 – an affectionate record of the town and its inhabitants.
Opening hours: 1pm to 4:30pm (last admission 4pm)
Friday 7 April to Sunday 16 July, Wednesday to Sunday.
Wednesday 19 July to Sunday 3 September, daily.
Wednesday 6 September to Sunday 29 October, Wednesday to Sunday.
Adult £4, child £2 , Family entry (2 adults and 2 children) £10
Concession (students or those unable to access upstairs) £3
More details at: www.dickensmuseumbroadstairs.com
From tonight (June 15) as part of the Broadstairs Dickens Festival, Great Expectations is being performed at the town’s Sarah Thorne Theatre.
Performances are at 7,30pm each evening from June 15-18 with an additional 3pm show on Saturday (June 17).
Tickets are £14 in advance, £16 on the door