Gad's Hill Place
The home of Charles Dickens in Higham, Kent
Gad’s Hill Place was the country home of Charles Dickens for the last 14 years of his life, and the only house he ever owned. He first saw it as a small child, living in Chatham and walking in the Kent countryside with his father. The Georgian rectory on its hilltop site with spectacular views made an indelible impression on the imaginative boy. When he had risen far from his humble origins, and overcome the humiliations and heartbreak of his youth to become the greatest novelist of his age, he bought it. Gad’s Hill was the much-loved retreat which represented his spectacular achievements, and where he returned for family life and recuperation. Here he completed A TALE OF TWO CITIES and wrote his last two novels, GREAT EXPECTATIONS and OUR MUTUAL FRIEND, and the unfinished MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD.
He died in the house on June 9th, 1870, following a stroke, at the age of 58. After Dickens’s death his eldest son
Charley lived in the house until 1878 when his reduced financial circumstances required him to sell it.
The house is now a school, and can be visited, with pre-booked tickets, on seven weekends each year, from April to October.
“Bless you, sir,” said the very queer small boy, “when I was not more than half as old as nine, it used to be a treat for me to be brought to look at it. And now, I am nine, I come by myself to look at it. And ever since I can recollect, my father, seeing me so fond of it, has often said to me, ‘If you were to be very persevering and were to work hard, you might some day come to live in it.’ Though that’s impossible!” said the very queer small boy, drawing a low breath, and now staring at the house out of the window with all his might.
From 'The Uncommercial Traveller'