His Many London Homes
The bi-centenary of Charles Dickens birth falls in 2012. I have long been doing a London sightseeing tour called the 'London of Dickens & Shakespeare' with a little bit of Chaucer thrown into the mix too. The tour travels mainly around Bloomsbury, the City and Southwark, as you would expect, and explores both factual aspects of their lives and the fictional London's of which they wrote.
Whilst Chaucer's life provides very little to look at, and luckily Shakespeare's quite a bit more, Charles Dickens is to be found everywhere. Dickens was born in Hampshire and died in Kent, but most of his life was spent in London. Whilst in London Dickens lived at an extraordinary number of addresses, especially during the first twenty years of his life and the last ten.
Charles Dickens - Born 7th February 1812, Portsmouth, Hampshire. First home in the Portsea area.
Cleveland Street (10 Norfolk Street)
10 Norfolk Street (renamed 22 Cleveland Street, W1) - still standing. John and Elizabeth Dickens moved to London with their expanding family and then to Chatham in Kent until 1822, when they returned to London.
16 Bayham Street, NW1 - demolished or renumbered
Gower Street North(now the site of UCH, Gower Street/Beaumont Place, WC1) - demolished.
Little College Street (renamed, now the upper part of College Place, NW1) - demolished. His father was now in the Marshalsea debtors prison and Dickens was lodged with a Mrs Roylance.
Lant Street - Charles Dickens Primary School
Lant Street, SE1 (where the school now stands) - demolished. Dickens lodged with Archibald Russell, to be nearer the Marshalsea. His mother and siblings lived in the prison with John Dickens.
Cranleigh Street (Johnston Street)
29 Johnston Street (renamed Johnson Street then Cranleigh Street, NW1) - demolished 1934. John Dickens was by now released from prison and the family moved here following a short return to Mrs Roylance, and an unknown address in Hampstead NW3.
The Polygon, Clarendon Square (where Oakshott Court, off Polygon Road NW1 now stands) - demolished. The Dickens family resided here for a few months before they returned to 29 Johnston Street.
10 Norfolk Street (renamed 22 Cleveland Street, W1) - still standing. John Dickens clearly renewed his acquaintance with the landlord, Mr Dodds the cheese maker.
Various. The Dickens family was (still) often moving on to avoid creditors. Favoured short term locations included Hampstead NW3, Marylebone W1 and Fitzrovia W1.
15 Buckingham Street, WC2 - demolished or renumbered. Dickens lodged here as a young journalist. He also lodged for a short time in Cecil Street (ran off Strand, slightly to the west of Carting Lane, WC2 - demolished.)
Holbarn Bars (Furnivals Inn)
Furnivals Inn (now Holborn Bars, WC1) - demolished. Dickens originally took small lodgings here and then larger rooms once married to Catherine Hogarth. He began 'The Pickwick Papers' here. For a time in 1836 he also took secondary rooms in Selwood Terrace SW7 whilst engaged, to be nearer his betrothed's family house.
48 Doughty Street
48 Doughty Street, WC1 (now the Dickens Museum) - still standing. Whilst here he completed 'The Pickwick Papers' and wrote 'Oliver Twist' and 'Nicholas Nickleby'.
15 -17 Marylebone Road (1 Devonshire Terrace)
1 Devonshire Terrace (now 15-17 Marylebone Road, W1) - demolished 1960. A large stone 'Dickens' frieze on the wall makes the building identifiable. Whilst here he wrote 'The Old Curiosity Shop, 'Barnaby Rudge', 'A Christmas Carol', 'Martin Chuzzlewit', 'Dombey & Son' and 'David Copperfield'.
Tavistock House, Tavistock Square, WC1 (now BMA House) - demolished. An English Heritage 'Dickens' blue plaque is on the wall. Whilst here he wrote 'Bleak House', 'Hard Times', 'Little Dorrit' and 'A Tale of Two Cities'.
Gads Hill Place, Chatham, Kent became Dickens main family home. This address overlapped slightly with Tavistock Square. Most of 'Our Mutual Friend' was written here during 1864-5. After his main London house had been sold he took short term leases at a number of addresses. Sometimes there would be gaps between leases.
26 Wellington Street (Wellington Street North)
11 Wellington Street North (renamed 26 Wellington Street, WC2) - still standing. Dickens' magazine 'All The Year Round' had its office here. From time to time he would sleep in the rooms above the office, especially between taking leases. He wrote most of 'Great Expectations' here in 1861.
16 Hyde Park Gate South (merged into Hyde Park Gate, SW7) - probably renumbered.
57 Gloucester Place, NW1 - still standing, unless it's been renumbered.
Somers Crescent (Somers Place)
16 Somers Place (renamed Somers Crescent,W2) - demolished.
6 Southwick Place, W2 - demolished.
The Five Bells Public House & nearby, 155 New Cross Road, SE14 - still standing. Both a bolt hole under an assumed name, and within easy reach of Gads Hill Place, central London and the house he rented for his mistress Ellen Ternan at 16 Linden Grove, SE15.
5 Hyde Park Place, W2 (now flats) - demolished.
Died 9th June 1870, Gads Hill Place, Chatham, Kent. Buried in Poets Corner, Westminster Abbey.