I walked in the footsteps of Charles Dickens on Sunday when enjoying a fascinating walking tour of Rochester. The sun was shining, the sky was cloudless and blue and it couldn't have been a nicer way to visit the lovely town of Rochester which so often featured in Dickens's novels. Many were written in his Swiss Chalet that was built in his garden at Gad's Hill near Higham. The Swiss Chalet can now be seen on the High Street at Eastgate House but there is talk of returning it to Gad's Hill. The town is absolutely heaving with Dickensian references with Tiny Tim Sandwich Shops and Peggotty Tea Rooms amongst many other similarly named shops, bars and restaurants.
There are also many locations described by Dickens but frequently renamed to add to the confusion. Restoration House features in Great Expectations as Satis House where Miss Havisham lived in her wedding gown, but round the corner from the castle is a house that is called Satis House where Elizabeth First stayed in 1597. Yesterday her descendant, Prince Charles and Camilla visited Kipling's beautiful house, Bateman's, at Burwash. It is well worth a visit to see this lovely house now owned by the National Trust. Another National Trust property was in the news yesterday as Sissinghurst announced their plans to restore the library and books belonging to Vita Sackville West. A painstaking task but well worth visiting to see the results.