If you are in London and need a break from the big museums packed with tourists, Charles Dickens’ house is an interesting and rewarding choice to make.
Located in a quiet area in the fashionable district of Bloomsbury, Charles Dickens Museum is a charming time travel to the Victorian era, and also a witness of the great writer’s life. What I love the most about such places is the way they reveal intimate, cozy settings that make up the personality of their owner. They seem to have their own soul and lots of exciting stories to tell.
The building on 48 Doughty Street became Dickens’ house in 1837, precisely when Queen Victoria’s reign began and he was still an almost unknown young writer publishing under the pen name Boz. Today, it offers the 21st century visitor a wonderful image of everyday life in the Victorian era: the rooms seem somehow frozen in time, and the table set in the dining room looks as if the well-known writer were ready to receive prestigious visitors from London’s cultural milieu of the mid-1800s.
Apart from historic furniture and beautifully preserved everyday household objects, one can also see paintings, books from the writer’s personal collection, handwritten novel drafts, his wife Catherine’s engagement ring and other personal possessions.
For those who grew up with Dickens’ novels or are simply interested in finding out a bit more about life in Victorian London, this is a wonderful and comprehensive museum, despite its rather small size. Each of the five floors has something enticing to reveal, and each room has its own distinct character.
The visit starts in the three rooms at the ground floor, the entrance hall, the dining room and the morning room, then goes down into the basement, the kitchen, scullery and washhouse, plus the wine cellar.
The upper floors host the drawing room, Dickens’ study, the bedrooms, and the writer’s dressing room. All of them are well documented, and the visitor is offered enough information to get an idea about each of them. It was a lovely expedition into the less known corners of the novelist’s life, right from his own home. One of those places where I felt like staying even more, and from which I left with a bitter-sweet feeling of nostalgia for a past long gone.
The museum also has a pretty café with a garden, where the visitor can enjoy coffee, tea, cakes, and light lunches. The house is part of the Museum Mile, a walking route that includes another 14 museums. The ticket costs £9.50, and the visit takes about one hour and a half (at least from my part). The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 AM to 5 PM (last admission at 4 PM).