This year, the world has marked the 200th birthday of Charles Dickens . One of the events will be the re-opening of the newly-restored Charles Dickens Museum in London on December 10, just in time for the Christmas season.
My Dickens Memories I go back a long way with the great author’s books and their characters. As a child I could relate to Oliver Twist. I spent ages seven through seventeen in Girard College, a school and home for fatherless boys in Philadelphia. The conditions there were far better than Oliver’s London workhouse. However, I always understood the boy’s feelings of loss and abandonment.
One of my happier Dickens memories was when I portrayed Scrooge in our high school presentation of “A Christmas Carol.” As a 16-year-old, I enjoyed wearing make-up wrinkles and white wig as I played the old man. Today, more than 70 years later, I could do the part without make-up.
A Visit To The Dickens Museum (48 Doughty Street London) With a lifelong interest in Charles Dickens and his works, when in London several years ago I visited the Charles Dickens Museum. It’s his former family home in the residential section of the city’s Camden Town. Dickens lived in the modest row house from 1837 to 1839, and it was where he wrote the novels, “Oliver Twist” and “Nicholas Nickleby”. The museum, furnished in mid-19th Century style, displays many of the author’s papers, family portraits, furnishings and other artifacts.
Christmas At The Dickens Museum To mark the December re-opening, the museum offers events with a special holiday flair, one called A Very Dickensian Christmas. On December 24, 25 and 26, visitors will take a tour, while enjoying mulled wine, mince pie and other holiday treats. There will then be a session of actors reading passages from Dickens’ writings, followed by a screening of the movie, “A Christmas Carol.” Admission prices for A Very Special Dickensian Christmas: $29 for adults, $13 for children
Where to stay We like the Grenville House Hotel (4 Guilford St., London) We spent a night at the Grenville House Hotel, a bed and breakfast just around the corner from the Dickens Museum. Built in the same private residence style of the Dickens era, Grenville House offers private rooms with baths and a full English breakfast. Rates are from $110 per night.
Where to eat We were told Rules (35 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London) was Dickens’ favorite London restaurant. Opened in 1798, it still offers a menu listing dishes the author enjoyed. In a private room named for him, there are six choices of Christmas dinners. For example, for $116, one holiday dinner includes roast goose with prunes, savoy cabbage, bacon, chestnuts and roast potatoes. For dessert, there’s plum pudding with brandy butter, followed by coffee and mince pie. We preferred to eat in the public area of the restaurant, where the food was very good, but a bit less expensive.
Ted Sherman has spent a lifetime traveling, first in the US Navy and then as an insurance executive. Now retired and with vacation journeys to every continent, almost 100 cruises and multiple group tours, he enjoys sharing his travel experiences and knowledge with others. Follow Ted on Twitter, @travel4seniors and on his travel blog, travel4seniors.com.
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