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Map last updated November 2015Note:
This map and the information it contains is by no means meant to be all-inclusive or complete. It was designed to provide the reader of Dickens' works with a better understanding of the places that occur in the novels. It will continue to be updated and additional information is solicited. All additional information will be confirmed and added as it is received.
The Charles Dickens Page
The Brook (Map: G-12) In 1821 John Dickens moved his family, including 9-year-old Charles, from Ordnance Terrace to 18 St Mary's Place, an area known as the Brook. The house was next to a Baptist church where Dickens' teacher, William Giles', father was minister. Peter Ackroyd in Dickens says that this was a step down from the house at Ordnance Terrace and may have signalled John Dickens' slow descent into debt that eventually led to debtor's prison.
The Bull Inn (Map: E-5) There has been an inn on this site since 1555 and the present building dates from the late 1700s. It was originally called the Bull Hotel but in 1835 young princess Victoria was detained in the town due to a violent storm and stayed in the hotel, afterwards renamed the Royal Victoria and Bull Hotel.
In The Pickwick Papers Mr Pickwick and his friends begin their adventures in Rochester and stay at the Bull where Jingle describes the accomodations in his rapid-fire speech:
...they reached the Bull Inn, in the High Street, where the coach stopped.
'Do you remain here, Sir?' inquired Mr. Nathaniel Winkle.
'Here--not I--but you'd better--good house--nice beds-- Wright's next house, dear--very dear--half-a-crown in the bill if you look at the waiter--charge you more if you dine at a friend's than they would if you dined in the coffee-room--rum fellows--very.'
The Bull Inn is also featured in Great Expectations although Dickens renames the inn The Blue Boar. Pip stays at The Blue Boar whenever he comes back to the area and, after suffering a downturn in his expectations, describes the change in his treatment at the hotel:
The tidings of my high fortunes having had a heavy fall, had got down to my native place and its neighbourhood, before I got there. I found the Blue Boar in possession of the intelligence, and I found that it made a great change in the Boar's demeanour. Whereas the Boar had cultivated my good opinion with warm assiduity when I was coming into property, the Boar was exceedingly cool on the subject now that I was going out of property.
It was evening when I arrived, much fatigued by the journey I had so often made so easily. The Boar could not put me into my usual bedroom, which was engaged (probably by some one who had expectations), and could only assign me a very indifferent chamber among the pigeons and post-chaises up the yard. But, I had as sound a sleep in that lodging as in the most superior accommodation the Boar could have given me, and the quality of my dreams was about the same as in the best bedroom.
Watching a military review at the lines was a popular entertainment in the 19th-century and in The Pickwick Papers Mr Pickwick and his friends go to enjoy the spectacle:
Mr. Pickwick and his three companions stationed themselves in the front of the crowd, and patiently awaited the commencement of the proceedings. The throng was increasing every moment; and the efforts they were compelled to make, to retain the position they had gained, sufficiently occupied their attention during the two hours that ensued. At one time there was a sudden pressure from behind, and then Mr. Pickwick was jerked forward for several yards, with a degree of speed and elasticity highly inconsistent with the general gravity of his demeanour; at another moment there was a request to 'keep back' from the front, and then the butt-end of a musket was either dropped upon Mr. Pickwick's toe, to remind him of the demand, or thrust into his chest, to insure its being complied with. Then some facetious gentlemen on the left, after pressing sideways in a body, and squeezing Mr. Snodgrass into the very last extreme of human torture, would request to know 'vere he vos a shovin' to'; and when Mr. Winkle had done expressing his excessive indignation at witnessing this unprovoked assault, some person behind would knock his hat over his eyes, and beg the favour of his putting his head in his pocket. These, and other practical witticisms, coupled with the unaccountable absence of Mr. Tupman (who had suddenly disappeared, and was nowhere to be found), rendered their situation upon the whole rather more uncomfortable than pleasing or desirable.
At length that low roar of many voices ran through the crowd which usually announces the arrival of whatever they have been waiting for. All eyes were turned in the direction of the sally-port. A few moments of eager expectation, and colours were seen fluttering gaily in the air, arms glistened brightly in the sun, column after column poured on to the plain. The troops halted and formed; the word of command rang through the line; there was a general clash of muskets as arms were presented; and the commander-in-chief, attended by Colonel Bulder and numerous officers, cantered to the front. The military bands struck up altogether; the horses stood upon two legs each, cantered backwards, and whisked their tails about in all directions; the dogs barked, the mob screamed, the troops recovered, and nothing was to be seen on either side, as far as the eye could reach, but a long perspective of red coats and white trousers, fixed and motionless.
Mr. Pickwick had been so fully occupied in falling about, and disentangling himself, miraculously, from between the legs of horses, that he had not enjoyed sufficient leisure to observe the scene before him, until it assumed the appearance we have just described. When he was at last enabled to stand firmly on his legs, his gratification and delight were unbounded.
Chatham Station (Map: I-10) The station was opened on 25 January 1858, when the London, Chatham and Dover Railway (LCDR) (then known as the East Kent Railway) opened a single line eastwards to Faversham. Two months later (29 March 1858) the link with the North Kent Line at Strood was opened; and the new railway reached Dover Priory in 1861. There are tunnels at either end of the station: Fort Pitt Tunnel (428 yards/385m) at the London end and Chatham Tunnel (297 yards/267m) at the other end.
Dickens, writing in Dullborough Town, travelled to Chatham Station in 1860 and is dismayed at the station having swallowed up his former playground. He describes leaving the area for London as a child in a coach (Timson's Blue-Eyed Maid) and coming back aboard No. 97.
I began to look about me; and the first discovery I made, was, that the Station had swallowed up the playing-field.
It was gone. The two beautiful hawthorn-trees, the hedge, the turf, and all those buttercups and daisies, had given place to the stoniest of jolting roads: while, beyond the Station, an ugly dark monster of a tunnel kept its jaws open, as if it had swallowed them and were ravenous for more destruction. The coach that had carried me away, was melodiously called Timpson's Blue-Eyed Maid, and belonged to Timpson, at the coach-office up-street; the locomotive engine that had brought me back, was called severely No. 97, and belonged to S.E.R. [South Eastern Railway], and was spitting ashes and hot water over the blighted ground.
College Gate (Map: E-6) College Gate, originally called Cemetery Gate, is the original for Jasper's Gatehouse where cathedral organiste John Jasper lived in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. In Dickens' time there was a pawnbroker's shop where the road to the right passes now. The gatehouse itself looks very much as it did in Dickens' time. The interior was modernized prior to 1930.
...an old stone gatehouse crossing the Close, with an arched thoroughfare passing beneath it. Through its latticed window, a fire shines out upon the fast-darkening scene, involving in shadow the pendent masses of ivy and creeper covering the building's front. As the deep Cathedral-bell strikes the hour, a ripple of wind goes through these at their distance, like a ripple of the solemn sound that hums through tomb and tower, broken niche and defaced statue, in the pile close at hand.
Corn Exchange (Map: E-6) This building, which dates from 1698, operated as a corn exchange in Dickens' time. It now offers lavish wedding settings in either the Prince Hall or the Queens Hall. It still features the stylized clock which hangs out over the high street.
In The Uncommercial Traveller, Dullborough Town, Dickens tests his childhood memories by revisiting the building and its clock as an adult:
Of course the town had shrunk fearfully, since I was a child there. I had entertained the impression that the High-street was at least as wide as Regent-street, London, or the Italian Boulevard at Paris. I found it little better than a lane. There was a public clock in it, which I had supposed to be the finest clock in the world: whereas it now turned out to be as inexpressive, moon- faced, and weak a clock as ever I saw. It belonged to a Town Hall, where I had seen an Indian (who I now suppose wasn't an Indian) swallow a sword (which I now suppose he didn't). The edifice had appeared to me in those days so glorious a structure, that I had set it up in my mind as the model on which the Genie of the Lamp built the palace for Aladdin. A mean little brick heap, like a demented chapel, with a few yawning persons in leather gaiters, and in the last extremity for something to do, lounging at the door with their hands in their pockets, and calling themselves a Corn Exchange!
Eastgate House (Map: F-7) is an Elizabethan mansion built in 1590-91. In Dickens' time the house was used as a girls' school. In 1897 the house was purchased by the Rochester City Council and was used as the city museum. In the 1970s the house became the Charles Dickens Centre, this closed in 2004.
The house is the model for Westgate House, an establishment for young ladies, in The Pickwick Papers where Dickens relocates the house from Rochester to Bury St. Edmonds:
'Westgate House, Sir. You turn a little to the right when you get to the end of the town; it stands by itself, some little distance off the high road, with the name on a brass plate on the gate.'
The house appears in Dickens again in The Mystery of Edwin Drood as the Nuns' House, a Seminary for young ladies run by Miss Twinkleton. Dickens has given Rochester the fictional name of Cloisterham:
In the midst of Cloisterham stands the Nuns' House: a venerable brick edifice, whose present appellation is doubtless derived from the legend of its conventual uses. On the trim gate enclosing its old courtyard is a resplendent brass plate flashing forth the legend: 'Seminary for Young Ladies. Miss Twinkleton.' The house-front is so old and worn, and the brass plate is so shining and staring, that the general result has reminded imaginative strangers of a battered old beau with a large modern eye-glass stuck in his blind eye.
Falstaff Pub (Map: A-1) Sir John Falstaff is a pub across the road from Dickens' home at Gad's Hill. In Shakepeare's Henry IV Falstaff conspires with Prince Hal, the future Henry V, to commit a robbery on the Dover Road at Gad's Hill. Dickens wrote that "The robbery was committed before the door, on the ground now covered by the room in which I write. A little rustic alehouse, called the Sir John Falstaff, is over the way, has been over the way ever since, in honour of the event."
Fort Clarence (Map: I-5) The fort was built during the Napoleonic wars, between 1808 and 1812. Its main purpose was to prevent invasion from the Maidstone Road to the River Medway. After the wars the fort served a variety of purposes including military prison and lunatic asylum. It was used as a recruiting center during the First World War. During the Second World War it housed the headquarters of the Home Guard and an underground aircraft factory was built beneath the fort. The fort was allowed to fall into ruin after the war and now only the red brick keep, looking like a medieval castle, remains and is protected as a scheduled monument.
Fort Pitt (Map: I-8) The Fort was built between 1805 and 1819 and initially formed a defense, along with Fort Clarence to the west and Fort Amherst to the northeast, as a defence from invasion from the south during the Napoleonic Wars. The fort became a hospital in 1828 and an asylum was added in 1849, taking on the patients from nearby Fort Clarence. Prompted by Florence Nightingale, the first Army Medical School was founded here in 1860 and moved to Netley in Hampshire three years later. In the 1920s the site was converted to a girls school and still operates under the name of Fort Pitt Grammar School. Jackson's Field, a recreational area, now occupies a large portion of the former fort.
Fort Pitt served as the location of the mixed up duel to be fought between Nathaniel Winkle, seconded by Augustus Snodgrass, and Dr Slammer in The Pickwick Papers:
'Will you refer me to a friend, to arrange the time and place of meeting?' said the officer.
'Quite unnecessary,' replied Mr. Winkle; 'name them to me, and I can procure the attendance of a friend afterwards.'
'Shall we say--sunset this evening?' inquired the officer, in a careless tone.
'Very good,' replied Mr. Winkle, thinking in his heart it was very bad.
'You know Fort Pitt?'
'Yes; I saw it yesterday.'
'If you will take the trouble to turn into the field which borders the trench, take the foot-path to the left when you arrive at an angle of the fortification, and keep straight on, till you see me, I will precede you to a secluded place, where the affair can be conducted without fear of interruption.'
Gad's Hill Place (Map: A-1) Gad's Hill Place was Dickens' home for the last 10 years of his life. He admired the house as a boy and his father told him if he worked hard he may some day come to live there. Dickens bought the house in 1856 and moved there in 1860 after the separation from Catherine. He died there on June 9, 1870.
The Queer Small Boy - From Travelling Abroad, The Uncommercial Traveller
Dickens meets his childhood self on the road. The exchange recalls a scene from his past when he and his father would walk by Gad's Hill Place.
So smooth was the old high road, and so fresh were the horses, and so fast went I, that it was midway between Gravesend and Rochester, and the widening river was bearing the ships, white sailed or black-smoked, out to sea, when I noticed by the wayside a very queer small boy.
'Holloa!' said I, to the very queer small boy, 'where do you live?'
'At Chatham,' says he.
'What do you do there?' says I.
'I go to school,' says he.
I took him up in a moment, and we went on. Presently, the very queer small boy says, 'This is Gads-hill we are coming to, where Falstaff went out to rob those travellers, and ran away.'
'You know something about Falstaff, eh?' said I.
'All about him,' said the very queer small boy. 'I am old (I am nine), and I read all sorts of books. But DO let us stop at the top of the hill, and look at the house there, if you please!'
'You admire that house?' said I.
'Bless you, sir,' said the very queer small boy, 'when I was not more than half as old as nine, it used to be a treat for me to be brought to look at it. And now, I am nine, I come by myself to look at it. And ever since I can recollect, my father, seeing me so fond of it, has often said to me, "If you were to be very persevering and were to work hard, you might some day come to live in it." Though that's impossible!' said the very queer small boy, drawing a low breath, and now staring at the house out of window with all his might.
I was rather amazed to be told this by the very queer small boy; for that house happens to be MY house, and I have reason to believe that what he said was true.
Guildhall (Map: E-6) This building dates from 1687 and was designed by Christopher Wren. It housed local government offices in Dickens' time and operates today as a museum and features a room dedicated to Dickens.
It was in this building, in Great Expectations, that young Pip was bound as apprentice to Joe the blacksmith. Young Pip, dragged to the building by the pompous Pumblechook, likens the experience to being committed to prison:
The Justices were sitting in the Town Hall near at hand, and we at once went over to have me bound apprentice to Joe in the Magisterial presence. I say, we went over, but I was pushed over by Pumblechook, exactly as if I had that moment picked a pocket or fired a rick; indeed, it was the general impression in Court that I had been taken red-handed, for, as Pumblechook shoved me before him through the crowd, I heard some people say, "What's he done?" and others, "He's a young 'un, too, but looks bad, don't he? One person of mild and benevolent aspect even gave me a tract ornamented with a woodcut of a malevolent young man fitted up with a perfect sausage-shop of fetters, and entitled, TO BE READ IN MY CELL.
The Hall was a queer place, I thought, with higher pews in it than a church - and with people hanging over the pews looking on - and with mighty Justices (one with a powdered head) leaning back in chairs, with folded arms, or taking snuff, or going to sleep, or writing, or reading the newspapers - and with some shining black portraits on the walls, which my unartistic eye regarded as a composition of hardbake and sticking-plaister. Here, in a corner, my indentures were duly signed and attested, and I was "bound;" Mr. Pumblechook holding me all the while as if we had looked in on our way to the scaffold, to have those little preliminaries disposed of.
Minor Canon Row (Map: F-6) Minor Canon Row is a row of 18th-century brick houses built to house the Minor Canons of the Cathedral. Here is where the Reverend Septimus Crisparkle lived in The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Dickens refers to Minor Canon Row as Minor Canon Corner in The Mystery of Edwin Drood and gives this description:
Minor Canon Corner was a quiet place in the shadow of the Cathedral, which the cawing of the rooks, the echoing footsteps of rare passers, the sound of the Cathedral bell, or the roll of the Cathedral organ, seemed to render more quiet than absolute silence. Swaggering fighting men had had their centuries of ramping and raving about Minor Canon Corner, and beaten serfs had had their centuries of drudging and dying there, and powerful monks had had their centuries of being sometimes useful and sometimes harmful there, and behold they were all gone out of Minor Canon Corner, and so much the better. Perhaps one of the highest uses of their ever having been there, was, that there might be left behind, that blessed air of tranquility which pervaded Minor Canon Corner, and that serenely romantic state of the mind - productive for the most part of pity and forbearance - which is engendered by a sorrowful story that is all told, or a pathetic play that is played out.
No. 2 Ordnance Terrace (Map: I-10) In April 1817 Charles Dickens' father, John Dickens, was transferred to the Naval Dock Yard in Chatham and installed his family at No. 2 Ordnance Terrace. Peter Ackroyd in Dickens gives this description: "It was a comfortable although by no means spacious house; John Dickens always seems to prefer new buildings, and the houses in this terrace had only recently been constructed. And it was a typical building of its period: the narrow hallway, the dining room on the first floor, and the parlour above it. There was a bedroom on this floor, too, for the parents and then up a further staircase to two attic rooms, one for the servants and one for the children." The house (now no. 11) still stands. The family lived here until they moved to The Brook, closer to the dock yard, in 1821.
Pumblechook's House (Map: G-7) Uncle Pumblechook's House, in Great Expectations, was located in this building which dates from around 1684.
In Great Expectations Pip describes the house:
Uncle Pumblechook's premises, in the High-Street of the market town, were of a peppercorny and farinaceous character as the premises of a corn chandler and seedsman should be.
Dickens also used the building as the home of Mr. Sapsea in The Mystery of Edwin Drood:
Mr. Sapsea's premises are in the High-street, over against the Nuns' House. They are of about the period of the Nuns' House, irregularly modernised here and there, as steadily deteriorating generations found, more and more, that they preferred air and light to Fever and the Plague. Over the doorway is a wooden effigy, about half life-size, representing Mr. Sapsea's father, in a curly wig and toga, in the act of selling. The chastity of the idea, and the natural appearance of the little finger, hammer, and pulpit, have been much admired.
Restoration House (Map: G-6) Restoration House is an Elizabethan mansion so named by the consequence of a visit by Charles II the night before he was restored to the British throne in May 1660. The house was originally two medieval buildings (1454 and 1502â€“22) with a space between. They were joined together in 1640-1660 by inserting a third building between the two, to create a larger house.Dickens used the house as a model for Satis House, Miss Havisham's house in Great Expectations:
[Satis House] which was of old brick, and dismal, and had a great many iron bars to it. Some of the windows had been walled up; of those that remained, all the lower were rustily barred. There was a court-yard in front, and that was barred...at the side of the house there was a large brewery. No brewing was going on in it, and none seemed to have gone on for a long long time.
Rochester Bridge (Map: D-5) The first bridge over the Medway at Rochester dates from Roman times. Victorian engineers found the stone foundation of the Roman bridge. A wooden bridge spanned the Medway here during medieval times and in 1391 the first stone bridge was built. The stone bridge lasted until 1856 when a cast iron bridge replaced it. This cast iron bridge was found to be sufficiently weakened by 1908 to be in need of replacement. A new cast iron bridge opened in 1914 and a second span was built in 1970 to increase capacity with the older span undergoing refurbishment. The first railroad bridge over the Medway at Rochester dates from 1858.
In The Pickwick Papers Mr Pickwick takes in the scene from Rochester Bridge:
Bright and pleasant was the sky, balmy the air, and beautiful the appearance of every object around, as Mr. Pickwick leaned over the balustrades of Rochester Bridge, contemplating nature, and waiting for breakfast. The scene was indeed one which might well have charmed a far less reflective mind, than that to which it was presented.
On the left of the spectator lay the ruined wall, broken in many places, and in some, overhanging the narrow beach below in rude and heavy masses. Huge knots of seaweed hung upon the jagged and pointed stones, trembling in every breath of wind; and the green ivy clung mournfully round the dark and ruined battlements. Behind it rose the ancient castle, its towers roofless, and its massive walls crumbling away, but telling us proudly of its old might and strength, as when, seven hundred years ago, it rang with the clash of arms, or resounded with the noise of feasting and revelry. On either side, the banks of the Medway, covered with cornfields and pastures, with here and there a windmill, or a distant church, stretched away as far as the eye could see, presenting a rich and varied landscape, rendered more beautiful by the changing shadows which passed swiftly across it as the thin and half-formed clouds skimmed away in the light of the morning sun. The river, reflecting the clear blue of the sky, glistened and sparkled as it flowed noiselessly on; and the oars of the fishermen dipped into the water with a clear and liquid sound, as their heavy but picturesque boats glided slowly down the stream.
Rochester Castle (Map: E-5) Rochester Castle was a strategically placed medieval castle, defending Britain's southeast coast. Built in 1128, the castle was besieged by King John in 1215 in an attempt to get back control he had signed over with Magna Carta. The castle captured Dickens' imagination as a child and is mentioned in several novels.
In this excerpt from The Pickwick Papers Pickwickians Snodgrass, Pickwick, and Jingle (the stranger) supply these observations of the Castle on entering Rochester:
'Magnificent ruin!' said Mr. Augustus Snodgrass, with all the poetic fervour that distinguished him, when they came in sight of the fine old castle.
'What a sight for an antiquarian!' were the very words which fell from Mr. Pickwick's mouth, as he applied his telescope to his eye.
'Ah! fine place,' said the stranger, 'glorious pile--frowning walls--tottering arches--dark nooks--crumbling staircases--old cathedral too--earthy smell--pilgrims' feet wore away the old steps--little Saxon doors--confessionals like money-takers' boxes at theatres--queer customers those monks--popes, and lord treasurers, and all sorts of old fellows, with great red faces, and broken noses, turning up every day--buff jerkins too--match-locks--sarcophagus--fine place--old legends too--strange stories: capital'.
Rochester Cathedral (Map: F-6) The Bishopric of Rochester dates from the early 7th century. The present church was consecrated in 1130. After a series of fires the church was largely rebuilt around 1180. The cathedral Dickens knew had no spire, the former wooden spire having been removed in 1823. The present tower and spire were dedicated in 1904. The Cathedral figures in Dickens' novel The Pickwick Papers and is central to the unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
This description of the Cathedral in The Mystery of Edwin Drood are some of the last words Dickens ever wrote:
A brilliant morning shines on the old city. Its antiquities and ruins are surpassingly beautiful, with a lusty ivy gleaming in the sun, and the rich trees waving in the balmy air. Changes of glorious light from moving boughs, songs of birds, scents from gardens, woods, and fields - or, rather, from the one great garden of the whole cultivated island in its yielding time - penetrate into the Cathedral, subdue its earthy odour, and preach the Resurrection and the Life.
Royal Dock Yard (Map: B-12) Chatham was established as a royal dockyard by Elizabeth I in 1567. She herself visited the yard in 1573. For over 400 years Chatham Royal Dock Yard provided over 500 ships for the Royal Navy, and was at the forefront of shipbuilding, industrial and architectural technology. Charles Dickens' father, John Dickens, was a clerk in the Navy Pay Office and in 1817 was transferred to the Chatham Dock Yard with his young family, including 5-year-old Charles.
Strood Station (Map: C-5) The South Eastern Railway (SER) reached Strood in 1845. This original station, referred to as Rochester station, closed in 1856 when a new Strood Station opened and service was extended over the Medway to Chatham.
In The Uncommercial Traveller Dickens, at age 48, describes a visit to the theatre of his youth:
The Theatre was in existence, I found, on asking the fishmonger, who had a compact show of stock in his window, consisting of a sole and a quart of shrimps - and I resolved to comfort my mind by going to look at it. Richard the Third, in a very uncomfortable cloak, had first appeared to me there, and had made my heart leap with terror by backing up against the stage-box in which I was posted, while struggling for life against the virtuous Richmond. It was within those walls that I had learnt as from a page of English history, how that wicked King slept in war-time on a sofa much too short for him, and how fearfully his conscience troubled his boots. There, too, had I first seen the funny countryman, but countryman of noble principles, in a flowered waistcoat, crunch up his little hat and throw it on the ground, and pull off his coat, saying, 'Dom thee, squire, coom on with thy fistes then!' At which the lovely young woman who kept company with him (and who went out gleaning, in a narrow white muslin apron with five beautiful bars of five different-coloured ribbons across it) was so frightened for his sake, that she fainted away. Many wondrous secrets of Nature had I come to the knowledge of in that sanctuary: of which not the least terrific were, that the witches in Macbeth bore an awful resemblance to the Thanes and other proper inhabitants of Scotland; and that the good King Duncan couldn't rest in his grave, but was constantly coming out of it and calling himself somebody else. To the Theatre, therefore, I repaired for consolation. But I found very little, for it was in a bad and declining way. A dealer in wine and bottled beer had already squeezed his trade into the box- office, and the theatrical money was taken - when it came - in a kind of meat-safe in the passage. The dealer in wine and bottled beer must have insinuated himself under the stage too; for he announced that he had various descriptions of alcoholic drinks 'in the wood,' and there was no possible stowage for the wood anywhere else. Evidently, he was by degrees eating the establishment away to the core, and would soon have sole possession of it. It was To Let, and hopelessly so, for its old purposes; and there had been no entertainment within its walls for a long time except a Panorama; and even that had been announced as 'pleasingly instructive,' and I know too well the fatal meaning and the leaden import of those terrible expressions. No, there was no comfort in the Theatre. It was mysteriously gone, like my own youth. Unlike my own youth, it might be coming back some day; but there was little promise of it.
Tope's House (Map: F-6) Tope's House, now operating as Tope's Restaurant, is where Dickens places Mr. and Mrs. Tope in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Tope is the Head Verger at Cloisterham Cathedral. He and his wife rent rooms to both John Jasper, in the adjacent gatehouse, and to Datchery, in their own house.
Mr. Tope's official dwelling, communicating by an upper stair with Mr. Jasper's (hence Mrs. Tope's attendance on that gentleman), was of very modest proportions, and partook of the character of a cool dungeon. Its ancient walls were massive, and its rooms rather seemed to have been dug out of them, than to have been designed beforehand with any reference to them. The main door opened at once on a chamber of no describable shape, with a groined roof, which in its turn opened on another chamber of no describable shape, with another groined roof: their windows small, and in the thickness of the walls. These two chambers, close as to their atmosphere, and swarthy as to their illumination by natural light, were the apartments which Mrs. Tope had so long offered to an unappreciative city. Mr. Datchery, however, was more appreciative. He found that if he sat with the main door open he would enjoy the passing society of all comers to and fro by the gateway, and would have light enough. He found that if Mr. and Mrs. Tope, living overhead, used for their own egress and ingress a little side stair that came plump into the Precincts by a door opening outward, to the surprise and inconvenience of a limited public of pedestrians in a narrow way, he would be alone, as in a separate residence. He found the rent moderate, and everything as quaintly inconvenient as he could desire. He agreed, therefore, to take the lodging then and there, and money down, possession to be had next evening, on condition that reference was permitted him to Mr. Jasper as occupying the gatehouse, of which on the other side of the gateway, the Verger's hole-in-the-wall was an appanage or subsidiary part.
In Dicken's Rochester John Oliver reports that the building is much the same as it was in Dickens' time although his description of the interior was much changed to move the plot. For instance there was no access from this building into the gatehouse.
The Vines (Map: G-6) A green area directly adjacent to Restoration House, The Vines originally derived its name from the monks of nearby St. Andrews Priory who used the area as their vineyard. Charles Dickens loved this park and was seen walking here just three days before his death in 1870.
In Great Expectations Pip walks through The Vines on his way to Satis House when visiting Miss Havisham. It is also featured in The Mystery of Edwin Drood as in this passage where Edwin Drood encounters the old matron of the opium den:
As dusk draws on, he paces the Monks' Vineyard. He has walked to and fro, full half an hour by the Cathedral chimes, and it has closed in dark, before he becomes quite aware of a woman crouching on the ground near a wicket gate in a corner. The gate commands a cross bye-path, little used in the gloaming; and the figure must have been there all the time, though he has but gradually and lately made it out.