A Day in London with Charles Dickens: Photo Essay

A day in London exploring Charles Dickens and his haunts.

A visit with Charles Dickens made the top of my list as I traveled by train from Gatwick to London. So far, the trip to Europe had exceeded anything in my crazy imagination. I brought comfy shoes and planned to walk everywhere. After recent terror attacks, I hoped it would be enjoyable and police presence wouldn’t spoil the mood. Quite the opposite happened. I discussed how Londoners fight terrorism. So very simple, isn’t it? (Adopting the English manner of speaking to get you in the mood.) Instead, the city was filled with families enjoying the day. Any sort of trepidation melted away in the London sunshine.

The Grange Wellington Hotel, chosen by the crew from the Bloggers Bash, proved to be a great location for sightseeing. Many tourist attractions were located nearby.

First stop: Buckingham Palace.

The timing couldn’t have been better. As my husband, Danny, and I approached the Palace, the Changing of the Guard began. I didn’t know they had a marching band too. Very cool! I walked by the gate and snapped a photo while security kept me moving.

I wonder what that little boy is thinking. Did toilet paper stick to my shoe?

This photo needs a caption:

St. James Park

From there, my husband and I wandered around the park. It was just as serene as the last time I visited. Yes, those are swans on the pond. Dickens must have spent some time there.

St. James Park

St. James Park cottage

Charles (Chuck) Dickens House and Haunts

We made our way towards the Chuck Dickens Museumhis house on Doughty Street. Why Chuck instead of Charles? Because the more I know about him, the more confident I am that we would have hung out if he lived today. He was the type of friendly out-going guy who would go by the name Chuck. I mean, the guy stood on a chair when reciting passages from his books to his friends while they dined on fine cuisine rustled up by the cook two floors down. Eccentric and self-confident. How cool was he? While writing, Chuck would recite lines in the mirror. If they didn’t look right, he would rewrite them. I read passages out loud when writing novels, but I haven’t tried while looking in a mirror. Let me know if that works for you.

Dickens dining room

His Fascination with People

Another reason we would have hung out. Chuck and I have the same curiosity about all different types of people. He would walk the back alleys and talk to the indigent, homeless, and forgotten. His father spent time in debtors prison, so injustice became a running theme in his writing. I can relate to his affinity to strangers. Danny worries I’d follow just about anyone down a dark alley if I thought they were interesting in some way. Definitely! How do you think I found these guys?

new friends in Cali dressed for halloween

Dickens published his first book, The Pickwick Papers over twenty monthly installments. This new form of storytelling became so popular, he published six more in this fashion, including Bleak House, David Copperfield, and Oliver Twist. Instead of writing the book in its entirety, he would write and publish a chapter, then ask readers their opinions. He constructed the story as he went along, similar to The Martian, which was produced from blog to book to movie. Love that idea!

Charles Dickens' Desk (1)

Did you notice Chuck’s desk is positioned away from the window? I’ve been watching birds in the feeder all morning. Oh, look at that one!

Chuck’s Old Haunts

After the enlightening tour, we searched the neighborhood for the pubs Charles frequented. I was especially inspired inside The Swan. I even wrote a short story while sitting at the corner table. I wonder if Chuck sat there.

This was my view. A perfect place to observe people and eavesdrop.

The Swan

Covent Garden and Ladurée

On our way back to the hotel, we swung by Covent Garden just in time for tea. I can’t believe we don’t have tea time in the US. We’re really missing out. I wish there was a Ladurée in Boulder. A girl can dream…

Tea Time The Laduree London (1)

Check out the slide show below! More of Dickens’ haunts and Covent Garden.  

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Envisioning authors like Dickens absorbing the environment and community for setting and characters in his books inspired me. Safe and full of families, a stroll in London was a great way to spend a day.  We walked almost ten miles!

 

Is there a novelist from the past you would love to meet? Have you been to London? What were your favorite haunts? Did you think of a caption?

Click here for more posts from the Wild Ride!

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67 thoughts on “A Day in London with Charles Dickens: Photo Essay

  1. I love this museum so much! It’s one of my favourites in the UK. I too am a Dickens enthusiast. As I stood looking at the desk, I actually shed a tear, I was so moved (does this make me seem a bit sad ha?!). Ooh I’ve never been to Laduree. I definitely need to check that out!

    Like

    • Wow! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I could have spent days walking around that neighborhood. He was known for his long walks.
      The Laduree in Covent Garden was spectacular. I took lots of photos and plan to write another post!
      Thanks so much!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. We just recently returned from London as well, and I LOVED it! Reading your post, I wish we would have checked out Chuck’s museum (will add for when we go back, which we are definitely doing). I feel pretty cool since my desk also faces away from the window, so like, Chuck and I are birds of a feather, right? We totally missed the Changing of the Guard, which I was a little bummed about, but we had a great day just roaming around the city on our own self-guided tour.

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    • Hey Becca!
      Thanks so much. London is a great place for tourists! I’m glad you enjoyed your trip.
      Yep, you’re set up just like Chuck! I get nothing done in front of a window. My upstairs desk is facing a wall, but when I work downstairs, it can be a big problem!
      We’ve been to London twice before and didn’t see the Changing of the Guard. We were super lucky.
      There’s so much to do in one day. I would love to tour the Tower of London. Have you been?

      Like

  3. I wonder what Chuck would’ve thought about so many people doing their own versions of “A Christmas Carol”? (*cough* Me included! *cough*)

    My life is (mostly) spent with my butt attached to the couch and my laptop in my lap. I don’t write during the day, but when I do, I can only see the outdoors from the corner of my eye, so birds don’t generally distract me. (As I wrote that, I stopped a moment and glanced out the window–yikes! xD )

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    • That is such a great question, Daya! I wonder if he was a control freak or would have enjoyed all the different renditions. My favorite, “Scrooged.” Ha!
      I’m glad you mentioned the window. There’s a spectacular sunset right now!
      Thanks for reading!

      Like

  4. Looks like fun. And Chuck’s house is so charming. Almost makes we want to buy an old Victorian house and some fancy China dishes and . . . oh wait, I did do that. I wish my gardens looked like his. Maybe next year.

    Come to Vicksburg – we’ll have tea.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    Like

    • I would love to have tea with you in Vicksburg!
      It was a narrow tall house. Lots of stairs. He must have kept in pretty good shape running up and down! It’s funny looking back since the furniture was probably brand spanking new!

      Like

  5. We took my sister in law’s dog for a walk by the British Museum, where he promptly walked to the lawn and… (number one). The heavily batlle-dressed security guards burst out laughing. Does that count as a tourist experience? Hahahahahahaha!

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  6. That is HILARIOUS! We have so little control over our pets… That and the reaction would have been fantastic on video!
    Thanks Ray!

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  7. Tres cool! I actually have a fridge magnet on a filing cabinet adjacent to my writing desk with a Charles Dickens quote on it. Historically, I wouldn’t mind meeting H. G. Wells – and when I was about 7 I actually DID meet Norman Hunter, creator of Professor Branestawm – a slightly eccentric inventor whose adventures I loved as a kid and which are still a great read today.

    Like

    • Thanks for reading, Matt!
      That is so cool that you met an idol. HG Wells must have been an Interesting guy and would make a great dinner guest!

      Like

  8. What a fascinating trip it must have been! The romantic in me would love to have lived then, but the practical me prefers modern heating, plumbing and medicine.

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    • It was! Chucks sister came for dinner and died that night. Imagine. Must have been a bad jar of peaches that did her in. No antibiotics back in the day.
      I was especially mesmerized by the macaroon. 🙂

      Like

  9. You have to love Chuck.
    Funny you can walk for miles in London and never realize it. (Or maybe we are just easily distracted with all the wonders and sights. Such parks.)
    High tea in the Mts? Sound like potential there for you (at the Stanley perhaps?)
    Thanks for taking us along on your trip

    Like

  10. What the Dickens! This is a great photographic journey you’ve gifted us peeps from the other side of the pond. Thank you. And now I’m wanting to go back again. It’s been a while, and England is such a great city.

    Cheers Susie!

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    • Ha! Thank you, Cayman. It is a lovely city considering its monstrous proportions. I loved every minute of it. If you stay in the right location, you can walk everywhere! 🙂

      Like

    • It really was a great trip. There’s a ton to see and do. Next time, I’d like to tour the Tower of London.
      Thanks, Bekah!

      Like

  11. London is one of my favorite cities! I would visit again in a heartbeat (and hopefully will someday soon). I saw a shortened version of the Changing of the Guard due to rain, but was still neat. One of my favorite things to do was have afternoon tea at the Orangery at Kensington Palace. It was heavenly!

    Like

    • Thanks so much, PP!
      The food was as delicious as it looked and the people were “lovely!” Very friendly and approachable.

      Like

  12. Wow! I love going to museums and It seems you learned a lot about Dickens from there! Currently thinking about what writer’s museum I would like to visit. London looks beautiful!

    Like

    • Thanks for stopping by!
      I love museums when they draw you in and keep your interest. I love Dickens for his books and have read a lot about his eccentricities. My kind of guy!

      Like

    • Thanks so much!
      It’s a huge city, so we mapped it out. I’ve been two other times, so I didn’t do the usual shopping thing, but would have loved going to Selfridges. Next time I want to hit the Tower of London!

      Like

    • The park is right next door! There’s so much history and things to do. Ive barely scratched the surface! Thanks for stopping by, Ellen!

      Like

  13. Stop by my blog sometime and check out my section entitled “Carolyn: Keeping Watch” and read the 11-part one at the bottom. I have transformed that into a novelette about around 50-60 pages and love it more and more each time I reread it.
    Just a thought.

    Like

  14. I haven’t known much about London or Charles Dickens, but this post is beautiful and full of spirit! Your photos really captured the moment and all of the excitement.

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    • Thank you! I love old Chuck and his exuberant ways. He spent a lot of time with street people and had a soft spot for the poor. I didn’t mention that he became fascinated with the occult!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

  15. Susie! These were some great journey pics! I love the dessert pics of course. Loooooove. I like the fact that you got inspired being there and absorbed the energy. It’s so cool when you go to a place like that and get jazzed up to write. I had no idea about his publishing ways via The Martian style. That’s a great story 🙂 Hope for us all 🙂 Glad you enjoyed your trip and are sharing those pics!

    Like

    • Thanks so much, Guat!
      He invented the serial and would have been a SUPER BLOGGER! Ha! Almost every place we went gave me a different vibe to work from. The weirdest was in that pub when I started writing from a man’s POV! Ha!

      Like

  16. Dicken’s is one of my favorite authors as well. Don’t know if I could get any with calling him Chuck, but I’d want to hang around long enough to find out. And I’m with you on a fascination with writing a novel in installments. The blog is a great forum to pull this off.

    I don’t have the skill (or discipline for it yet), but Im sure you do. I’ll be hanging around here to see if this is a future project you might dip into…

    Until then, I’m happy to be able to call u Susie.

    Like

    • Hey, Gabe! I missed your comment!
      A long time ago, I wrote flash fictions on Fridays, in fact, I coined the name, Flash Fictioneers. One of my micro stories became a 385-page thriller. At one point, I wrote a series for a few consecutive Fridays, but decided to return to standalone flash. I quit writing them when I discovered my ideas were being ripped off. I’m sure they still are through search. I am intrigued by the idea of running a serial since it would only be one story and easy to watch for copyright infringement, but I’d hate to go down that rabbit hole. We’ll see…..

      Like

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    • Thanks, Marje!
      It was a fabulous day. I don’t know why we don’t have tea time here. Most are off work at 5:00. A quick trip for tea and biscuits and then revived so we aren’t falling asleep in our dinner! Is that the same time you’re off work or do workers in the UK get off earlier?

      Liked by 1 person

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