Dickens Fellowship Chatham

Jan Leeming

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Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Date: 21st February 2013


Many of the members turned up in Dickensian costume and very authentic they were – I wouldn’t have liked to encounter them down a dark alley.

Although I was an outsider they were all so welcoming and friendly and made me feel very much at home.

The star turn of the evening was a performance of a little known work by Dickens called Dr. Marigold. Dickens’ Great Great Grandson, Gerald, treated us to an amazing ‘tour de force’. I didn’t time it but I think he was on his feet for a solid hour and how moving a story it is. It stands alone among Dickens’ work and in 1866 he introduced it into his reading tours.

Gerald is an enormously warm gentleman and we hit if off immediately when I told him I’d interviewed his relation Cedric Dickens when making ‘A Cook Back in Time’ at Gad’s Hill. (I’ve often said that I’m ahead of my time and that series was just a trifle too early – had it been introduced a few years later then I think it would have ‘gone Network’ and could have provided years of interesting work. It was a combination of Cookery and History and at Gad’s Hill we had a cook preparing a Dickensian Christmas Dinner in the kitchen which is very little changed from when it was used in Dickens time)

At the end of the evening they cut a cake which had been baked and decorated by one of the members.  Gerald cut the cake and then I was extremely honoured to be asked to propose the toast.

I’m so glad we had a great time because earlier I’d been disappointed to discover that Dickens’ World, which we’d hoped to visit in between the BBC and Chatham, was undergoing refurbishment. Anyway that is a visit for another day.



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