What the Dickens! It’s Christmas at Chatsworth House and once again there is the most spectacular display of Christmas cheer, with just a few bah humbugs thrown in. With book characters as your guide the spirit of Christmases past will be upon you!
The theme for this year’s Christmas celebrations at Chatsworth House is the famed Victorian author and social critic Charles Dickens.
His epic stories, vivid characters and detailed description of contemporary life are unforgettable.
His novels have become much loved classics including, Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. He cleverly crafted some of the world’s best-known fictional characters, including Uriah Heep, the Artful Dodger, Fagin, Miss Havisham and of course Scrooge.Dickens was born in Portsmouth in 1812, the second of eight children. His father, John Dickens, was a naval clerk who dreamed of striking it rich, but instead fell into debt, so the whole family ended up in a debtor’s prison. His first novel, Oliver Twist, which follows the life of an orphan living in the streets, was inspired by how Dickens felt as a penniless child forced to get by on his wits and earn his own keep.
Charles also lived through the Industrial Revolution and through his many characters he was able to chart how life was changing, especially for the poor people.
8 fascinating facts about Charles Dickens
- He first won fame in 1836 with the antics of the cockney sportsmen portrayed in The Pickwick Papers. Like many of Dickens’ stories this came out in monthly instalments, chapter by chapter. Perhaps this is why Dickens’ books make good films and TV series!
- Dickens was an insomniac, often roaming the streets of London in the early hours of the morning; the people he met and things he saw were later brought to life in his stories.
- Dickens was interested in the paranormal and was a member of The Ghost Club. Inspiration perhaps for A Christmas Carol? After his death Marley is sent back to earth as a ghost in heavy chains, as punishment for being such a greedy, hard-hearted business man, and to warn his old partner Scrooge to mend his miserly ways.
- Famous during later life, Charles Dickens was a house guest at Chatsworth House. I think he would have been delighted with the spectacular Christmas displays you will see!
- Famous in death, Dickens has appeared on the British £10 note.
- He was a prolific writer and throughout his stories he wrote over 4.6million words, and many of his novels are much loved classics.
- He invented many words we still use today such as, butterfingers and slowcoach. My favourite less well know is “trumpery”, meaning something of apparent value, but little real worth or use!
- Charles Dickens died in June 1870 and is buried in Poet’s Corner at Westminster Abbey.
On your tour around Chatsworth House you will discover the splendour and squalor of Dickensian London, with Victorian shop fronts, the London Docks, Scrooge’s bed and much more all magnificently dressed for Christmas.
My favourite is the character cleverly created out of actual books in the entrance hall.
There is also plenty of opportunity for interaction. Children will love trying to spot Bill Sykes’ dog, Bullseye, as they follow through the house, and can also have fun dressing up. You may also encounter Miss Haversham or the dastardly Bill Sykes. Be warned – definitely don’t turn your back on Fagin or you may find your watch is missing!
“I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
Oh Dickens it’s Christmas is on from now until 7th January (except 24th, 25th, 26th December 2017 and 1st January 2018). We hope you enjoy your visit as much as we did!
Check here for our December availability in our cosy log cabins and gorgeous glamping pods.