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rochdickensOn Friday 7th February – Charles Dickens’ 202nd birthday – members of the Rochester & Chatham Dickens Fellowship attended the first local evening screening of the film “The Invisible Woman”. The film is currently being shown at the Odeon Cinema in Dickens World Leisure Complex, Chatham. The film is based on the book by Claire Tomalin telling the life story of Ellen (Nelly) Turnan. The controversy from a Dickensian scholar’s point of view is a tantalising question: did Charles Dickens have a platonic relationship with the young actress or a love affair? There is also controversy over his separation from his wife, the mother of his ten children – and indeed whether Ellen Turnan had a child by Charles Dickens (or even more than one!). I am sure that Dickens scholars will continue arguing over this for years to come.

Whatever the truth about Ellen Turnan and Charles Dickens, members enjoyed the film and found it well acted and produced. There is local interest in the film: Chatham and Rochester get a mention and part of the story relates to Gad’s Hill Place in Higham. A lesser-known fact is that Ellen (Nelly) Turnan was born on March 3rd 1839 in Maidstone Road, Rochester and baptised later that month in St Nicholas’ Church.


Eastgate_House_open_day_140913 More than 1,200 people took the opportunity to have a look around Eastgate House, Rochester during Heritage Open Days (12 to 15 September). The scheme celebrates England’s fantastic architecture and offers free entry to historic buildings that normally charge for admission or are not usually open to the public.

This was the last chance for visitors explore all four floors of the Elizabethan town house before work begins on a Heritage Lottery Funded project to conserve the building and transform it into an exhibition and community space with improved access. The house is due to re-open in 2015. Read More

 © Copyright Malc McDonald and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

© Copyright Malc McDonald and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Eastgate House, a treasured 16th century townhouse in the heart of historic Rochester will be open to the public throughout Heritage Open Days, from Thursday 12 to Sunday 15 September.

This will be the final opportunity for visitors to see the whole house before work begins on a heritage lottery funded project to transform the house into an exhibition and community space. Read More

The next meeting of the Rochester and Chatham Dickens Fellowship (R&CDF) is on Thursday the 18th of April, 7.15 for a 7.30 start. The meeting takes place in the Education Room at Dickens World in Chatham and includes a talk by Dr Ann Kneif – ‘Lola Montez, a 19th century adventuress’. Non-Members are welcome at £2 per person payable on the door but advanced booking is essential. For details of the R&CDF or for non-members to attend contact the Hon. Secretary Mr Steve Martin on 01474 834164 – or John Knott 01634 862688.
For details of the venue –





DSC07604The monthly meeting of the Rochester and Chatham Dickens Fellowship (R&CDF) took place on Thursday the 21st of February staring at 7.30. The Charles Dickens 201st Birthday meeting was in the Pre-Show Room of The Britannia Theatre Dickens World in Chatham and included a performance of Dr Marigold by Gerald Dickens. For details of the R&CDF contact the Hon. Secretary Steve Martin on 01474 834164 – or Chairman John Knott 01634 862688.

Gerald Dickens, the great great grandson of Charles Dickens, introduced his reading by telling the group some of the background to Dr Marigold and how much his great ancestor had liked performing it – particularly to American audiences. After the reading, Gerald answered questions from the audience and spent the next hour or so talking to members individually. In answer to one question, Gerald said that as far as he is aware, Dr Marigold is the only reading that Charles Dickens gave that did not come from one of his books. R&CDF are very lucky to have Gerald as our branch President.

Another highlight of the evening was a champagne toast to Charles Dickens birthday given by ex BBC News Reader and popular TV personality Jan Leeming. An excellent cake was baked and cut by Fellowship Committee Member Freda Mann. There was also a supply of champagne [ with orange juice for the nominated drivers amongst the group] provided by committee member David Hawes and the management of Dickens World in Chatham where the Fellowship hold their regular meetings. Many branch Members attended in Dickensian costume and the Chairman of the International Dickens Fellowship James Murray also attended and supported the celebrations.

A colourful and exciting exhibition celebrating the life and times of Charles Dickens has opened at the Guildhall Museum.
A World Made Real: Dickens and Victorian Life charts some of the key themes that occur in Charles Dickens’ novels including travel, entertainment, education, crime and poverty, food and drink, death and mourning. More

Fantastic new features are sure to wow the crowds at this year’s Bicentenary Rochester Dickens Festival. More

All things Charles Dickens continues apace next month with a stage adaptation of one of the author’s favourite novels.

As a prelude to the Bicentenary Rochester Dickens Festival, Mad Dogs & Englishmen Theatre Company bring David Copperfield to The Brook Theatre on Friday, 1 June. More

Conservation workers helping to preserve Eastgate House, Rochester have uncovered a mysterious face from the past.

The team of workers have been painstakingly peeling away layers of paint to reveal the original décor of the grade one listed building, which was built in the late 1590s by Sir Peter Buck, Clerk of the Cheque at Chatham Dockyard More

Pick up some homegrown produce and tasty local treats at Rochester Farmers’ Market this bank holiday weekend, as it pitches up at the Rochester Sweeps Festival.

Traders selling a range of the freshest local produce including vegetables, meat and baked goods, as well as cider, preserves, olives and pies will be pitching up in the Kings Head car park from 10am to 5pm on Saturday, 5, Sunday, 6, and Monday, 7 May.

They will join more than 50 morris sides and entertainers celebrating throughout the bank holiday weekend, with processions, fun activities for families and three days of folk music featuring guest artists from the Canada and France, as well as all over Britain. More

A group of art students will present their first external exhibition at Eastgate House, Rochester starting Saturday, 31 March. More

The next meeting of the Rochester and Chatham Dickens Fellowship is on Thursday the 16th of February 7.15 for a 7.30 start. The meeting is in the Education Room of Dickens World in Chatham include s a talk by Dr. Tony Williams. Non Members are welcome for a small fee. For details of the R&CDF or non members to attend contact the Joint Hon. Secretary Mr Steve Martin 01474 834164

R&CDF Branch Meeting 16th February
“Mile-stones on the Dover Road” Dickens, Kent and Dickensians, a talk by Tony Williams.

Dr Tony Williams
Tony Williams taught English in secondary schools from 1969 to 1997 when he took early retirement. From 1999 to 2006 he was Joint General Secretary of The International Dickens Fellowship and a Trustee of the Charles Dickens Museum in London. He is Associate Editor of The Dickensian and organises the London programme of events for the Dickens Fellowship, as well as being a frequent speaker on Dickensian topics both in the UK and overseas. He is currently a member of the group planning the programme for the celebrations in 2012 of the bicentenary of Dickens’s birth. He has recently accepted an honorary Research Fellowship at the University of Buckingham to assist with work on Dickens Journals Online.

Eastgate House: picture: Simon Kelsey

If you’ve resolved to volunteer in 2012, or to get involved more in the local community, there’s a chance to do just that at Eastgate House next week.

The historic building was awarded a development grant of up to £80,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund in February 2011, as part of a £1million grant application to restore the building and transform it into an exhibition gallery and community space where all kinds of events can be held. More

The monthly meeting of the Rochester and Chatham Dickens Fellowship (R&CDF) will take place in the Education Room of Dickens World, Chatham. The meeting is on Thursday the 20th of October, 7.15 for 7.30 pm start. For details of the meeting, the R&CDF or to attend, non members welcome, contact Joint R&CDF Secretary Steve Martin on 01474 834164.

In a change to the advertised programme, R&CDF Members Colin Benson and Jan Bird will give a reading which is not only one of the best known from Charles Dickens’s works, but from the whole of English literature. Set in a church yard in the marshes at Cooling north of Rochester, it is taken from the first chapters of Great Expectations.
The talk was previously given by R&CDF Members during the June 2011 Rochester Dickens Festival and at the Avenue Theatre in Sittingbourne.

Significant Dickens artefacts from Medway have gone on loan to France as part of a new exhibition near Boulogne. More

Royal Wedding Celebration International Filming. On the afternoon of Wednesday the 27th of April, Members of the Rochester and Chatham Dickens Fellowship (R&CDF) and The Victorian Strollers became TV extras again. More

The mammoth task of fund raising to restore Dickens iconic Swiss Chalet More

The village of Higham, situated between Gravesend and Rochester, is split into two parts known as Upper and Lower Higham. Lower Higham is the original Saxon village More

Pupils from across the Kindergarten and Junior School at Gad’s Hill have joined in the annual present collection for ‘Operation Christmas Child’, More


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