charles-dickens

Great Expectations

Holborn has a little-known and lengthy history with one of one Britain’s best-loved novelists, Charles Dickens, who lived at various addresses in the area. Check out the development around the corner from where he spent some of his formative years.

Charles Dickens spent much of his young life in Holborn. From his time as a junior clerk in Gray’s Inn to living as a celebrated writer in Bloomsbury, the author of A Christmas Carol resided there for much of his twenties. By the time he eventually left the neighbourhood, even the young Queen Victoria was a firm devotee of his work.

From Kent to Holborn Court

Dickens didn’t have the most comfortable start to London life. On his return to the city from Kent, the 12-year-old Charles had to work in a boot-blackening warehouse whilst his family were confined to a debtors’ prison.

After an acrimonious two years at a school in Camden, Dickens worked as a junior clerk at the office of Ellis and Blackmore in Gray’s Inn. These legal experiences were to influence much of his later literary work, including Bleak House and Nicholas Nickleby.

Holborn Court to Furnival’s Inn

Aged 20, Dickens already had his sights set on fame. After an initial foray into acting, he decided to become a writer. He took rooms at Furnival’s Inn with his younger brother, Frederick, a place would later be described by the character John Westlock in his novel The Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, as “snug chambers…where the bachelors live”. Here, Dickens started work as a political journalist, covering parliamentary debates and local elections.

Shortly after the successful publication of his collection of periodical sketches, he was approached by publishers Chapman and Hall to supply a text that was to become The Pickwick Papers, his first popular story (the final instalment of which would sell 40,000 copies).

Furnival’s Inn to 48 Doughty Street

charles-dickens-museum1836 turned out to be a very busy year for Dickens. Between finishing The Pickwick Papers and writing the first instalments of Oliver Twist, he accepted the editorship of literary magazine Bentley’s Miscellany whilst also writing and overseeing the production of four plays. In the April of that year, Dickens also got married to Catherine Hogarth and they settled in Furnival’s Inn – this time at larger rooms.

However, soon after the birth of their son Charley – the first of their ten children – the couple relocated within Holborn to 48 Doughty Street. They rented the house, which had five floors, a garret, a full basement and gates, for £80 per annum. It was here that Dickens, now a well-known writer, finished his acclaimed Oliver Twist. The property is now the site of the Charles Dickens museum. After 3 years and with a rapidly growing family, the Dickenses left Holborn and moved to No.1 Devonshire Terrace in Regents Park in 1939, where the author’s reputation as one of the greatest novelists of the time would be cemented.

48 Doughty Street to Dyers Buildings

pinksmews-holbornImmediately opposite the site of the novelist’s former home at Furnival’s Inn sits The Dyers Buildings. In Dickens’s time, these buildings were used as an almshouse. Today, they have been transformed into a luxury mews development, Pinks Mews. Comprising 35 apartments, all properties benefit from outstanding interior finishes, stunning architectural features and a dedicated 24-hour concierge service. The mews itself is beautifully secluded and tucked away, but residents have only to step over the threshold to Chancery Lane and the host of vibrant bars, eateries and the creative and professional businesses that now occupy Dickens’s London. So, book a viewing today, and we promise that your great expectations will be very much exceeded.

Prices at Pinks Mews range from £995,000 to £2,750,000. For further information contact Jamie Gunning at CBRE (020 7240 2255), Glen A. Cook at Hamilton Brooks (020 7606 8000) or visit the Pink Mews website to register your interest.

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