Whilst mulling over the purchase of some Christmas presents this week I was first told that “procrastination is the thief of time” and then, when I opted for a cheap item, that I was a “Scrooge”! I was slightly insulted by the comments but then realised that they were actually both quotes from Dickens novels. Like Shakespeare, Dickens’ works and characters seem to have pervaded our lives and language, much of the time without us realising. That’s when I added a visit to the newly reopened Charles Dickens Museum in London to my Christmas list.
In 2012 England celebrated the 200th anniversary of his birth and what better a finale of this bicentenary than the re-opening of the Charles Dickens Museum on Monday after its massive £3.1 million investment. Located in the writer’s former family home in Bloomsbury central London, the museum has been welcoming visitors since 1925, but was struggling to keep up with the through flow. Following this lottery funded investment the Victorian town house located at 48 Doughty Street has been completely restored to its former glory whilst the neighbouring house has also undergone extensive conversion to house a brand new visitor centre, learning centre and cafe. The aim is to secure the sites for future generations and provide a visitor experience for the 21st century.
And it seems to be achieving its aims; the upgraded museum now offers visitors the opportunity to step back in time and walk around the immaculate Grade II listed building which is completely furnished and decorated as Dickens himself would have known it. The location where he penned some of his most famous works, including Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby, the house is bustling with memorabilia including a range of documents, photographs, manuscripts and the writing desk which he designed himself. Guests can also experience the family kitchen, drawing room and the newly opened attic room which now houses a range of personal materials detailing his troubled childhood. And once you’re finished at the museum you may want to pop over to Westminster Abbey to visit his final resting place in the Poets Corner.
So this Christmas, after I have revisited the familiar story of “A Christmas Carol” once again, it will be with great expectation that I open my Christmas presents in the hope that someone will have given me an admission ticket for the museum. And if they haven’t? Bah humbug!