St James' Church, Cooling
Eastgate House, Rochester
Eastgate House © Simon Kelsey
Restoration House, Rochester
Dickens' Swiss Chalet at Eastgate Gardens
Dickens' Swiss Chalet
Dickens' character Mrs Gamp
Rochester Castle

Dickensian Medway

The great writer Charles Dickens is one of Medway's proudest claims to fame. 

Dickens' childhood years in Rochester and Chatham greatly influenced his future life and career, and it was his fondness for the area which later brought him back to live here as a global superstar.

Many of Dickens' characters and stories are set in the Medway area, but what do we really know about the man behind Great Expectations, David Copperfield and Oliver Twist?

The Making of Dickens

The Making of Mr Dickens is a brand new permanent exhibition which is planned to open at The Guildhall Museum in Rochester later this year. Visitors will enjoy an exciting and immersive journey through Dickens’ life in Medway, while exploring the people and places which shaped his complex personal and public life and inspired him to create some of the best loved stories in English literature.

Charles Dickens moved to the area when he was five and spent a happy childhood around Chatham. His father, John, a clerk in the Royal Navy pay office, was transferred to Chatham Dockyard in 1817.

Dickens' most impressionable childhood days were spent in Medway and it was the place he found inspiration for some of his works' greatest characters and settings.  Many of the buildings found on Rochester's historic high street carry plaques detailing how the author incorporated them into his novels.  A gentle stroll around local sites and graveyards will reveal where he found the names of many of his characters.  

Houses of History

Eastgate House is an exceptional Grade I listed building and in the gardens the author's Swiss Chalet can be found.  The chalet was a present to Dickens from his French actor friend and was used by the author as his study at Gad's Hill Place, near Rochester.  Other attractions to visit in Rochester associated with the author that feature in his work include Restoration House, the Six Poor Travellers House and Rochester Cathedral.

Guided tours

The best way to explore Rochester and its Dickensian connections is with a local guide.  The City of Rochester Society offer free 90-minute walking tours (April to October) on selected days.  There is no need to pre-book, just turn up and enjoy the tour.

Costumed guided walking tours are available with Footsteps in Time for pre-booked groups. Some of Dickens' most famous characters, including Nancy, the 'tart with the heart' will escort you around Rochester pointing out the places of interest that featured in the works of Dickens.

Dickens was not only famous for his classic books but also his ghost stories.  A Christmas Carol being the most popular and The Signalman the eeriest.  On the last Sunday of each month join Count Von Dickens on a haunted ghost tour around Rochester.   

A self-guided walking trail with map 'In Dickens' Footsteps' is available from Medway Visitor Information Centre for only £1.


In Dickens' footsteps

Things to see and do