Tragedy at Dickens’ honeymoon cottage, Goldsmith’s Plantation, Chalk, Kent (UK)

Captain Edward GOLDSMITH, merchant mariner’s will in Chancery
Charles DICKENS, immortal novelist on honeymoon at Goldsmith’s plantation
Tragedy of Walter MULLENDER at CRADDOCK’S cottage, Chalk, Kent

View from Chalk Church, Kent UK

View from the tower of St Mary the Virgin Church, Chalk Kent UK, known as Chalk Church, down Church Lane to Lower Higham Road, the Salt Marshes and the Thames beyond.
Photo courtesy of and copyright © Carole Turner March 2016

1869: Captain Edward Goldsmith’s Will
A weather-board house known as Craddock’s cottage, Chalk, Kent (UK) was listed as one of Captain Edward Goldsmith’s properties in his will. It was located in the village of Chalk on the north side of the lower road leading to the marshes, a little way from the junction of the Gravesend to Rochester main road. Generations of the Goldsmith family had leased it to the parents of cabman John Craddock who was the occupant of the cottage when it was listed for auction on Captain Goldsmith’s death in 1869 under these terms:

27 COTTAGES and GARDENS in the village of Chalk, held at rentals amounting to £196 15s. per annum, together with 2a. 0r. 0p. of valuable plantation, house and garden, and building land, in the occupation of Mr. John Craddock, at a rental of £30 per annum, in 8 Lots.
Particulars, conditions, and plans may be obtained at the Auction Mart, London; Bull Hotel, Rochester; G. M. Arnold, Esq., Solicitor, Gravesend; and of Messrs. Cobb, Surveyors and Land Agents, 26, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, and Rochester, Kent.

Source: National Archives UK Ref C16/781 C546012
Read the complete transcript of Captain Goldsmith’s will in Chancery here.

The cottage was sold by private contract as soon as it was offered in 1869. It was almost certainly acquired because of its association with novelist Charles Dickens. He was thought to have lodged there on his honeymoon with Catherine Hogarth in early April 1836, and although disputes arose from time to time as to the veracity of this claim, with a few other cottages in the district put forward as possible contenders, the committee of the local Dickens Fellowship hoped to put an end to speculation in 1912 with their publication they called a “little brochure ” – see full transcript below – titled Dickens’s honeymoon and where he spent it. In this description of the cottage’s exact location and connection with the Craddock family, the authors drew upon the image of a triangle:

This weather- boarded, old-fashioned cottage is situated on the north side of the present main road. Those acquainted with the locality are aware that on the way to Rochester, and just after the village school is passed, two roads branch off — the main road, and what is called the lower road leading to the golf links and the marshes. It will also have been noticed that these two roads for a short distance form two of the sides of a triangle, Mr. Brann’s dairy forming the base. At the top of this triangle is situated the house where, according to Mr. Mullender, the honeymoon was spent, the present tenants being Mr. and Mrs. Redsell. In 1836, he says, the tenants were a Mr. and Mrs. Craddock, the parents of Mr. John


Craddock, who was for many years a well- known cabman in Gravesend, and who was born at this house in 1832. Mr. and Mrs. Craddock lived at this cottage for some thirty or forty years, and were in the habit of letting a parlour and bedroom. Mr. Mullender says his grandmother also confirmed this statement. Beyond this fact there is at present no further evidence in support of Mr. Mullender’s contention, but it must be remembered that no special notice would be taken of Mr. and Mrs. Dickens engaging apartments at the house, for Dickens had yet to make his name known.

From: Dickens’s honeymoon and where he spent it (1912) pp 19-20
See the full transcript of this publication below, and at this link:

The triangle and therefore the exact location of Craddock’s cottage is marked with a callout on this map of 1830. (NB: right click on it and open in a new window for large view.)

Callouts: Craddock’s Cottage, Chalk; St Mary the Virgin Chalk Church; Gad’s Hill House, Higham, Captain Goldsmith’s house on Telegraph Lane; Lady’s Tippett, Higham Creek Higham Saltings

Probate of Captain Edward Goldsmith’s estate was not settled until the early decades of the 20th century (1922). Contestations to his will in Chancery in 1870 involved his wife Elizabeth Goldsmith nee Day and his only surviving son Edward Goldsmith jnr. In 1871, from Tasmania on the other side of the world, his niece Mary Sophia Day also mounted a suit. Her sister Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day and her husband, photographer Thomas J. Nevin were also listed as legatees but did not contest. The premises known as Craddock’s cottage, in any event, was sold before these suits began in 1870 and the rent from John Craddock was therefore deemed “irrecoverable“.

These are the key points from the Chancery documents of Captain Goldsmith’s estate identifying the location and sale of the cottage. The land neighbouring Craddock’s cottage was known as Goldsmith’s Plantation until the 1930s:

(5.) Four cottages or tenements and premises situate on the north side of the aforesaid Gravesend and Rochester turnpike road in the said parish of Chalk and situate on the east side of the cottage and garden hereinafter described and numbered 10 which said 4 cottages or tenements were at the time of the testator’s death let to weekly tenants.

(6.) A piece of land situate opposite the “Lisle Castle” public-house on the south side of the aforesaid Gravesend and Rochester turnpike road in the said parish of Chalk and formerly let to John Craddock as yearly tenant which was sold by private contract in the year 1869 for the sum of £200.

Craddock's Cottage 1869

(pages 6-8 of Captain Edward Goldsmith’s will 1869-1872)

(10.) A piece of garden ground containing by admeasurement 1r. 30p. on the north side of the Gravesend and Rochester turnpike road with the cottage or tenement thereon erected and built situate in the parish of Chalk aforesaid and also a piece of orchard ground situate on the north side of the road leading from Gravesend to the village of Lower Higham and lying in the parish of Chalk aforesaid and containing by admeasurement 1a. 3r. 32p. all which premises are now in the occupation of John Craddock as yearly tenant at the annual rent of £30.

Source: National Archives UK Ref C16/781 C546012
Read the complete transcript of Captain Goldsmith’s will in Chancery here.

Craddock Cottage

Kent Photo Archive
Ref. No: MMPC-Q500002

1930: tragedy at Craddock’s Cottage
When Walter Mullender was found dead in Goldsmith’s Plantation with a gunshot wound to the head on Friday 7th March 1930, the inquest was conducted by Deputy Coroner Mr. F. V. Budden,  the purchaser of Charles Dickens’ house for a time (Kitton, Dickensiana, 1886:492). The cottage tenanted by the unfortunate Walter Mullender at Goldsmith’s Plantation in the parish of Chalk was referred to in contemporary press reports of the suicide as the Dickens Cottage and Honeymoon Cottage. Walter Mullender was buried at ST MARY THE VIRGIN CHURCH, known as Chalk Church, where Captain Edward Goldsmith was buried in July 1869.

Press Reports
Source: Walter Mullender and family, Monumental Inscriptions and press reports 83, 87, 88, 89, 90, 90B

Gravesend Reporter, 15th March 1930


An inquest was held at the “White Hart”, Chalk. On Monday, on Walter Mullender, of Dicken’s Cottage, Chalk, who was found dead in Goldsmith’s Plantation on Friday morning with a gunshot wound to the head.
The inquiry was conducted by Mr F.V. Budden, (Deputy Coroner). Walter Mullender, son of the deceased, gave evidence of identification.
He said that the deceased was a market gardener and retired City of London policeman. He was 53 years of age. The witness, who said he lived at home, continued, ” I last saw my father alive just before nine on Friday morning. He was just in front of the stables, but I cannot remember whether he was coming out or going in”. He said, “I have just got the greens ready”. I was just going to take them home to weigh them, then he got the gun and said he was just going round to see if there were any pigeons there. The gun had been his father’s and had been in the house for some time. It is an ordinary sporting gun”.

“A few minutes after I heard the report of the gun, but I did not pay much attention because he had shot a pigeon a day or so previously, and he did not like being interrupted when he had shot one pigeon as the other comes over and he can get the pair. At about 9.30, as father had not come back, I went to the Plantation. I saw him there. He was kind of lolling against a tree, with the gun across his knees. His face was all shot away”.
Witness added that there was a man digging nearby whom he asked to call a doctor. He, himself, went for the police, leaving the body as it was. On his return the doctor found a note in the deceased’s hat, it was in his handwriting.
The Coroner produced the note and had began to read it when witness interrupted that he did not want it made public. The Coroner: “We have to try to discover the state of the man’s mind. I have no power over the press”.
The Coroner read the following extract from the note:-“I have got everything ready, I can’t stand my head”.
“What had he been worried with his head?” asked the Coroner.
Witness: “He had been suffering from pain in the head, but he did not take it seriously”,
The Coroner: ” How long had he been suffering with these pains?”, “For some time now, a few years”.
Witness added that he had not heard his father mention the pains during the past few months. When he had had the pains previously they had not lasted for long, and he did not have them often.
The Coroner: “Had he had pains that morning?”

Witness:” He woke up at four in the morning with pains in the head and thought he had a cold coming”.
“Had he any financial worries ?”—- “He had an assured income from his police pension and I know of no such worries”.
“He had never said he was fed up or threatened to take his own life ?” —– “No, sir”.
“You realise your father must have taken his own life ?” — “Yes, sir”.
“Can you suggest any reason why he should take his own life ?” —–“Only that he might have had an abscess in his head and could not stand the pain any longer, he would never admit that he was ill.”
Margaret Mullender, the widow, said that the deceased had pains in the head but refused to see a doctor. “He always had such good health, he would not give in”, she said. Continuing she stated that at about eight the deceased told her that he had woken up in the night with a headache and thought he had a cold coming.
The Coroner: “Do you know if he had any other worries?” Witness replied that she knew of none. They had a bright outlook. It was the ninth year that he had left the police. “He had been handling guns all his life”, she added, “and was never happy unless he had one in his hands”. She did not think he went out with the intention of taking his life.

PC H.D. O’ Keefe, K.C.C., Denton, said, that about 9.40 on Friday, he was called to Goldsmith’s Plantation, where he saw the deceased in a sitting position with his back resting against a yew tree. A cross his knees was a 12 bore double-barrelled sporting gun. Both hands were resting on the gun. The fore-finger of the right hand was still on the trigger. The gun was loaded in both barrels and the right hand cartridge had been fired. Deceased’s hat was lying three yards away and had apparently been placed there. Stuck in the hat band was a note. In answer to the Coroner: He knew deceased well. He would say he was a normally balanced man. He was of a very cheerful disposition.
The Coroner questioned the relatives with regards to the paper the note was written on and remarked that it had struck him as strange that the note was dated March 13th 1929 [The fatality occurred on March 7th 1930].
He returned a verdict that the deceased took his own life by shooting whilst of unsound mind. [end of press report].

NB: Walter and Oscar were the sons of OSCAR MULLENDER snr. Walter’s son was also called Walter Mullender.

DEATH of OSCAR MULLENDER, 1912, father of Walter Mullender.
The Gravesend Reporter, 1912

The funeral of the late Mr Oscar Mullender, of Chalk, took place on
Monday last, visible signs of deep regret being manifest amongst his numerous
friends, who attended the service. The village seems deeply sensible to the
loss they have sustained and Mr Mullender’s many qualities will be indelibly
engraved upon their memories. Practically his whole life has been associated
with the district he loved so dearly.

He was born at Scadbury, Southfleet on October 21st 1840. His father
subsequently removed to Rettonden, Essex, and during his residence there the
deceased gentleman began his education at Wickford. In 1854 they came to Chalk where his father took over the proprietorship of the “White Hart Inn”, and in
1858 Mr Mullender started in business at the forge, which had already been in
the hands of the family for many years. He moved to Lower Stoke ( ? ) years
after but returned to Honeymoon Cottage in 1879 and restored business
at the forge. It was during his association with this interesting old relic of
bygone days that he made the acquaintance of the immortal Dickens. It has been
generally stated that the late Mr Mullender was characterised by Charles
Dickens in his famous work, Great Expectations , under the name of “Joe
Gargary”, but although the novelist might have utilised some of the deceased
gentleman’s characteristics, for undoubtedly he was on very intimate terms
with him, he could not be the inspiration of the master of the forge, for Mr
Mullender did not take over the proprietorship until some years after the
novel was written [1861]. Before the Kent County Constabulary came into existence. Mr
Mullender held the office of parish constable, and the family still possess
the truncheon and handcuffs which he then used. He had taken a very keen
interest in village sport and other …… ? and during his time he has been
the secretary of the Chalk Cricket Club, overseer and Churchwarden for several
years, secretary of the L.U.O.A.S. For 21 years and was one of the oldest
members of the A.O.F., in Gravesend.
On the occasion of one particular sports event on December 28th 1866
Mr Mullender was presented with a ribbon by Charles Dickens.
This is highly treasured by the family, forming as it does one of the many
links they can claim with the life of the great author. The deceased was a
great authority on Dickensian matters, and it is a curious coincidence that he
died on the very day celebrated as Dicken’s centenary. The funeral service was
held at Chalk Church and was conducted by the Rev. L. White, vicar of the
parish. The edifice was, despite the unpropitious weather almost filled and at
the graveside numbers of people gathered. The coffin which was of plain oak
and inscribed thus: Oscar Mullender who passed away February 7th 1912 in his
72nd year was carried by his workmen, at their special request, and the
arrangements were carried out by Mr Goldfinch, for whose father, the deceased
had at one time, worked. The chief mourners were: Charles, Oscar, Walter and
Arthur (sons); Mrs G. Burton; Miss Mullender and Miss May Mullender,
(daughters); Miss R. Mullender, (sister); Mr Herbert Mullender, (nephew); Mr
George Richen, Senr., (brother in law);George Richen, Junr., ( nephew); Mr
George Barnes, (brother in law); Mr George Burton, (son in law) and Mr Herbert

The “Lord Nelson”, the “Ship”, and the blacksmith’s forge
Captain Edward Goldsmith’s father Richard Goldsmith snr (1769-1839) held indentures over historically significant estates in the parish of Chalk, Kent, apart from his public houses, the “China Hall” and the “Princess Victoria” in Rotherhithe, Surrey, when he died in 1839:

The first property was the cottage leased to the Craddock family and believed to be the cottage where Charles Dickens lodged for a week on his honeymoon in April 1836. It was offered at auction from Captain Goldsmith’s estate in 1869.

The second was the public-house, the “Lord Nelson” owned conjointly with Richard’s brother Joseph Goldsmith (1761-1827). It sat directly opposite Craddock’s cottage, on the south side of the Gravesend to Rochester turnpike. On Joseph’s death in 1827, the license passed to his widow Mrs Sarah Goldsmith nee Cook (1775-1856) who retired in 1848 after forty years. Joseph Goldsmith died on 14th October 1827 aged 66. Sarah his wife died on 8th January 1856 aged 81. (Source: Sarah Goldsmith made the press in 1809 when she assisted in the capture of a robber who “exposed” her to his pistols:

Last Sunday, a Man of Colour, who had eloped from one of his Majesty’s ships lying in the River, came to the “Lord Nelson” public house at Chalk, and at an early part of the evening requested a lodging, and begged permission to lay down, as he had travelled until weary. Mrs. Goldsmith the landlady, not liking his appearance, he having exposed to her view a brace of pistols, and her husband being from home, she would not permit him to go up stairs, but suffered him to lay down in an outhouse. Some persons from the ship being in pursuit of him, he was taken the same evening, when it appeared he was a Captain’s Steward, and had robbed his master of cash to the amount of £20, some plate, and a gold watch, with which he was making off.

Source: Kentish Gazette 23 June 1809.

The “Lord Nelson” closed in 1923, re-opened in 1947 as a youth centre, and was demolished in 1950. (Source:

The third property listed in Richard Goldsmith’s will was another public-house, the “Ship and Lobster”, known as the “Ship”, located on the Thames in Ordnance Road, Denton and renowned as a centre for smuggling. It was visible from Chalk, according to Philip (1912, p.46 – see below):

From the centre of the village one can almost see the “Ship and Lobster” in the neighbouring parish of Denton, the original of the ” Ship” in “Great Expectations,” standing gaunt and bleak on the river wall.

The Ship Inn, screenshots from “Great Expectations” 1946 (dir. David Lean)

In this famous passage from Great Expectations, (1860-61: Chapter LIV, Gutenberg transcription), Pip says goodbye to the convict Magwitch at the “Ship”:

At length we descried a light and a roof, and presently afterwards ran alongside a little causeway made of stones that had been picked up hard by. Leaving the rest in the boat, I stepped ashore, and found the light to be in a window of a public-house. It was a dirty place enough, and I dare say not unknown to smuggling adventurers; but there was a good fire in the kitchen, and there were eggs and bacon to eat, and various liquors to drink. Also, there were two double-bedded rooms,—“such as they were,” the landlord said. No other company was in the house than the landlord, his wife, and a grizzled male creature, the “Jack” of the little causeway, who was as slimy and smeary as if he had been low-water mark too. ….
I lay down with the greater part of my clothes on, and slept well for a few hours. When I awoke, the wind had risen, and the sign of the house (the “Ship“) was creaking and banging about, with noises that startled me….
The Jack at the “Ship” was instructed where the drowned man had gone down, and undertook to search for the body in the places where it was likeliest to come ashore. His interest in its recovery seemed to me to be much heightened when he heard that it had stockings on. Probably, it took about a dozen drowned men to fit him out completely; and that may have been the reason why the different articles of his dress were in various stages of decay.
We remained at the public-house until the tide turned, and then Magwitch was carried down to the galley and put on board. Herbert and Startop were to get to London by land, as soon as they could. We had a doleful parting, and when I took my place by Magwitch’s side, I felt that that was my place henceforth while he lived.
For now, my repugnance to him had all melted away; and in the hunted, wounded, shackled creature who held my hand in his, I only saw a man who had meant to be my benefactor, and who had felt affectionately, gratefully, and generously, towards me with great constancy through a series of years. I only saw in him a much better man than I had been to Joe.


“Great Expectations”, 1946, British film based on the 1861 novel by Charles Dickens and starring John Mills and Valerie Hobson.
The supporting cast included Bernard Miles, Francis L. Sullivan, Anthony Wager, Jean Simmons, Finlay Currie, Martita Hunt and Alec Guinness.

The fourth property held by Richard Goldsmith in Chalk which has also passed into local legend because of its depiction in Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations (1860-61), is the blacksmith’s forge where Pip lived with his guardian, the blacksmith Joe Gargery. According to local legend, Thomas Mullender was the blacksmith on whom Dickens based his character Joe Gargery. His wife Sarah Mullender, a widow by 1861, became the licensee victualler of another public-house in Chalk, “The White Hart”. Their son, Oscar Mullender, a carpenter, 20 yrs old in 1861, and the subject of the 1912 obituary above, was the father of the unfortunate Walter Mullender, who was the resident of Craddock’s cottage when he was found dead in Goldsmith’s Plantation in 1930. The weatherboard cottage attached to the forge is still standing. It is remarkably similar in construction to Craddock’s cottage.

The forge, Chalk, Kent

Early 20th century postcard of the cottage and forge, Chalk, Kent

A Bill of Complaint was lodged in Chancery in 1856 against the will and beneficiaries of the estate of Richard Goldsmith by solicitor George Matthews Arnold less than six months after Captain Edward Goldsmith retired permanently to his estate and residence, Gad’s Hill House, Telegraph Hill, Higham, Kent. George Matthews Arnold’s Bill of Complaint listed the public house the “Ship” and the “blacksmith’s shop” by name, and Craddock’s cottage by measurement and location, among a dozen other properties he was seeking to redeem:

2. By indentures of lease and release date respectively the Nineteenth and Twentieth days of June One thousand eight hundred and seventeen the release being duly made and executed by and between the said Richard Goldsmith of the first part Joseph Goldsmith of the second part Thomas Smith of the third part and George Henry Malme of the fourth part for the considerations therein mentioned All that messuage or dwellinghouse with the garden and orchard belonging to or occupied with the same situate at or near Chalk in the county of Kent and in the occupation of Charles Louch his undertenants or assigns. And also all those Eleven cottages or tenements with the yards and gardens to the same and also a blacksmith’s shop situate at or near Chalk aforesaid And all those Four cottages or tenements situate at or near Chalk aforesaid  [Craddock’s cottage – 1a.3r.33p] And all that barn and an orchard or piece of and containing One acre three roods and thirty-three perches were the same more or less respectively situate at or near Chalk aforesaid and in the occupation of Mr Louch his undertenants or assigns And also all that messuage or tenement uses as a butcher’s shop situate at or near Chalk aforesaid and in the occupation of Thomas Brown his undertenants or assigns which heretofore formed the east end of the messuage And all that stable erected by the said Richard Goldsmith on part of the yard or ground formerly belonging to or occupied with the public-house formerly known by the sign of the “Ship” were conveyed unto and to the use of the said George Henry Malme his heirs and assigns subject nevertheless to a proviso or agreement therein contained for redemption of the same premises upon payment by the said Richard Goldsmith his heirs executors administrators or assigns unto the said George Henry Malme his executors administrators or assigns the sum of Five hundred pounds and interest thereon on or at the day or time therein mentioned and appointed for payment thereof. [page 3 of transcript]

Map, Chalk and Denton 1865

Detail of Ordnance map, 1865, showing the “Ship”, the “Lord Nelson”, the “White Hart”, Goldsmith’s Plantation and Craddock’s cottage, the “Lisle Castle”, and Chalk Church, St. Mary’s Church.

Sheet X View map: Kent X (includes: Gravesend; Northfleet.) – Ordnance Survey Six-inch England and Wales, 1842-1952 (
Surveyed: 1863 to 1865, Published: 1869
Size: map 61 x 92 cm (ca. 24 x 36 inches), on sheet ca. 70 x 100 cm (28 x 40 inches)

The Quarrel over Craddock’s Cottage
These are some of the publications concerned with the identification of the actual location and house where Dickens lodged while honeymooning with Catherine Hogarth in April 1836. Other premises put forward were Mrs Nash’s cottage, 18 Higham Road; “The Manor House” in Chalk Road (Frederic Kitton); and the now demolished “Malt House Farm” on the corner of West Court Lane and Lower Higham Road, (notes from Gravesend Library).

1904:The real Dickens land with an outline of Dickens’s life

The prospectus of Pickwick was issued at the end of February, 1836, and on March 31st, the first number was published at one shilling. On April 2nd, Dickens was married, in St. Luke’s Church, Chelsea, to Catherine Hogarth, eldest daughter of George Hogarth, of The Chronicle, and the honeymoon was spent at Chalk, in a house on the highway between Gravesend and Rochester: on that Dover Road which he introduces so touchingly and tellingly into Copperfield, only a few miles from that Gadshill Place which he coveted as a boy and owned as a man, overlooking the estuary of the Thames and those “ meshes ” or marshes in which such striking scenes were laid in Great Expectations.
The expense of the honeymoon was met by an advance payment for two parts of Pickwick, thus showing that Dickens was far from wealthy ; but during the year appreciation began to be manifested, he found some extra occupation in writing a farce, The Strange Gentleman, and the book of an opera, The Village Coquettes, both of which were successfully staged, and by the end of the Parliamentary session he felt his feet sufficiently to justify resigning journalism for literature….


At the beginning of January, 1837, the first issue of Bentley’s Miscellany was published, an contained the opening scenes of Oliver Twist, to which reference will be made in another chapter. On the 6th of January, Dickens’s first son (Charles) was born, and about the middle of February Dickens and his wife were again at Chalk, staying in the little house where they had spent their honeymoon. In March, they removed from the small rooms in Furnival’s Inn to 48, Doughty Street, a house which still remains, and which is now marked “Dickens House” on the door.


From: The real Dickens land with an outline of Dickens’s life
by Ward, H. Snowden (Henry Snowden), 1865-1911
Publication date 1904
Topics Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870
Publisher London, Chapman & Hall, limited
Collection oliverwendellholmeslibrary; phillipsacademy; americana
Digitizing sponsor Kahle/Austin Foundation
Contributor Phillips Academy, Oliver Wendell Holmes Library
Language English
240 p. incl. illus., plans. 26 cm

THE REAL DICKENS LAND; and an Outline of Dickens’ Life [Dickens, Charles]
Ward, H. Snowden & Catharine Weed Barnes Ward London
Chapman & Hall, 1904. Photographs. p.59

1911: Dickens-land

Haslehust watercolour Dickens cottage

Above: Chalk House, “Where Dickens spent his honeymoon” by E. W. Haslehust (1866-1949).
Watercolour on paper.
Source: Haslehust and Nicklin, Dickens-land, frontispiece.

by Nicklin, John Arnold
Publication date [1911?]
Topics Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870, Literary landmarks — Great Britain
Publisher London, [etc.] : Blackie
Collection robarts; toronto
Digitizing sponsor MSN
Contributor Robarts – University of Toronto
Language English

Notes from The Victorian Web

Although Charles Dickens was born at Portsmouth in 1812, Haslehust begins his
sequence of “Dickens-land” watercolours with a cottage in the Kentish village
of Chalk, not far from Rochester; here, Charles and Catherine Dickens
(formerly, Hogarth) spent their week-long honeymoon immediately after their
wedding on 2 April 1836 at St. Luke’s, Chelsea. From the age of five, Dickens
lived at Chatham, where his father, John, worked as a clerk in the Naval Pay
Office at the city’s dockyard. In 1822, he went up to to London to join his
family after his father’s transfer, but his happiest days of childhood were
spent in Chatham, Rochester, and the Medway. Even as he married Catherine in
London he was writing the picaresque novel The Posthumous Papers of the
Pickwick Club
, which shifts to the Kentish countryside after beginning in

Once he had acquired Gadshill Place near Rochester in March 1856, Dickens
would often walk to Chalk to admire the eleventh-century Saxon church. The
village on the marshes in Great Expectations is an amalgam of Cooling and
Chalk, the forge on the old Dover Road outside Chalk seems to have been
Dickens’s model for Joe Gargery’s.

Lynch, Tony. Dickens England: An A to Z Tour of the Real
and Imagined Locations. A Traveller ‘s Companion. London: Batsford, 2012.
Nicklin, J. A. Dickens-land. Illust. E. W. Haslehust. Beautiful England series.
Glasgow & London: Blackie & Son, 1911.


1905 & 1911: The Dickens Country

First published February, 1905. Reprinted September, 1911

This is Manor House, proposed by F. Kitton in 1905, disputed by A. Philip in 1912.

Dickens’s affection for Kent is indicated by the fact that he selected that county in which to spend his honeymoon, and in the village of Chalk (near Gravesend, on the main road to Dover) may still be seen the cottage where that happy period was spent, and in which he wrote some of the earlier pages of “Pickwick.”[102] It is a corner house on the southern side of the road, advantageously situated for commanding views of the river Thames and the far-stretching landscape beyond. In after-years, whenever his walks led him to this spot, he invariably slackened his pace on arriving at the house, and meditatively glanced at it for a few moments, mentally reviving the time when he and his bride found a pleasant home within its hospitable walls. Shortly after the birth of their eldest son, Dickens and his wife stayed at the honeymoon cottage, which, with its red-tiled roof and dormer windows, is a picturesque object on this famous coaching road. The walk to Chalk Church was much favoured by the novelist, where a quaint carved figure over the entrance porch interested him. This curious piece of sculpture, which he always greeted with a friendly nod, is supposed to represent an old priest grasping by the neck a large urn-like vessel, concerning which there is probably a legend. Another grotesque is seen above, and between the two is a niche, in which formerly stood an image of the virgin saint (St. Mary) to whom this thirteenth-century church is dedicated. About a mile distant, and a little south of the main road, is Shorne, another typical Kentish village, which, with its church and burial-ground, constituted for Dickens another source of attraction, and the latter was probably in his mind when he referred (in “Pickwick”) to “one of the most peaceful and secluded churchyards in Kent, where wild-flowers mingle with the grass, and the soft landscape around forms the fairest spot in the garden of England.”

Source: THE DICKENS COUNTRY 1911 (Kitton F.)

1912: Dickens’s Honeymoon and Where He Spent It

Dickens’s honeymoon and where he spent it
by Philip, Alexander J. (Alexander John), b. 1879
Publication date 1912
Topics Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870
Publisher London : Chapman & Hall ; Gravesend : Bryant & Rackstraw

“Dickens’s Honeymoon and Where he Spent it”



Dickens’s marriage
Forster gives few details of Dickens’s wooing and his marriage : in fact one finds
indubitably more, and  material much more pleasantly presented, in the
works. Of course, details of his life at this period are available but it is
not certain that they are essential here. I shall, however, refer to
whatever I find necessary at this or any other period of his life to
elucidate or elaborate anything in this account of his honeymoon cottage.
Kitton’s account of the wedding is more picturesque though still somewhat
short : ” The lady of his-


choice was Miss Catherine Thomson Hogarth, eldest daughter of George Hogarth,
his fellow worker on The Morning Chronicle, the marriage ceremony (a very- unpretentious affair)
taking place in the church of St. Luke, Chelsea, of which parish the Rev. Charles Kingsley (father of
the author of ‘ Westward Ho’) then officiated as rector. The bridegroom’s
old friend, Thomas Beard, acted as ‘ best man and concerning this auspicious
event the late Mr. Henry Burnett . . . has placed on record the following .
. . ‘ the breakfast was the quietest possible. The Dickens family, the
Hogarth family, and Mr. Beard . . . comprised the whole of the company. A
few common pleasant things were said, healths drank, with a few words said
by either party — yet all things passed off very pleasantly, and all seemed
happy, not the least so Dickens and his young girlish wife. She was a
bright, pleasant bride, dressed in the simplest and neatest manner, and
looked better perhaps than if she had been enabled to aim at something more.
‘ ”
I stop at this point in Kitton’s narrative, as it is here that he
becomes unreliable in regard to the house at which the honey-moon was spent.
Kitton’s statement on this subject is simply a slightly altered account of Blanchard’s remark :
as however no one had then seen any cause for questioning this, Kitton is not to be blamed for accepting the
statement without inquiry, as it emanated from so worthy a source.

The wedding took place on 2nd April, 1836 ; and the young couple
immediately repaired to Chalk, the centre of that district for which Dickens
always had the warmest feelings.

The first number of ” Pickwick” had appeared a week earlier. Reporting
and journalism, from which he had received a good salary for some time past,
were relinquished, and the ” Sketches ” and ” Pickwick ” were to be looked
to to make the seven pounds or thereabouts each week that had been
sacrificed. At that time Dickens was living at Furnivall’s Inn accumulating
impressions and experiences for use at a later period.


It is somewhat important to remember that the first part of ” Pickwick ” had appeared,
and that the following must have been, at least, maturing in the mind of the young writer ;
because he deliberately chose the locality of Chalk as the venue of the succeeding
chapters, and it appears probable that, as Chalk was not then what seaside
ladies now designate ” a letting neighbourhood,” Dickens had quite recently
been visiting Gravesend and the neighbourhood, not only with the object of
finding rooms or apartments, but also to gather fresh material, and to
refresh the material already in his mind, for the second and
succeeding parts of ” Pickwick.”




The village of Chalk that straggles indeterminately
along the main road — the Chatham Road passing Gad’s Hill, and the Dover
Road of David Copperfield as well as of Mr. F’s Aunt — has been variously
described as one mile and two miles, and anything between both, from
Gravesend. Really it is a good deal less than a mile from the confines of
the ancient borough, but as the boundary is at some considerable distance
from the town proper, it is easily understood that the distance from
Gravesend to Chalk appears greater than it is. And in 1836, when Dickens
brought his newly wedded wife there, the distance must have appeared
much greater on account of the long stretches of fields


then lying between the two places, but now broken
by houses and villas and blocks of small cottages. Even the view across the
river was a different one, not only physically but also on account of the
boats lying at anchor or sailing up and down therein ; with a few of
the early steam-boats to be seen apparently in the air, as a result of the
somewhat amusing feature of low marshland and a river at high water kept
within bounds by the sea-wall. Chalk then might be regarded as being quite a
journey from Gravesend. This is much more the case when we recollect that
the Victoria Tea Gardens, as the present cemetery then was, failed
because they were so far out of the town.

From the accompanying
plan of the village and its surroundings at that time, a clear idea may be
obtained of the aspect of the locality. This is necessary, as will be seen
from what follows shortly. So much depends upon the state of the village
about this period that special care has been necessary in gleaning
information regarding it. Most of the detailed maps of Gravesend


and its immediate surroundings about 1830 fade
away into indeterminate colourless space about Denton, naively suggesting
that this road goes ” To Rochester” without showing any direction as to how
it went there. This is not the case with every map however.

roads are much as they were eighty years ago or thereabouts, although their
surroundings have changed very much. The south road from Gravesend — the Old
Road, that is — ran through field land from Northfleet to Chalk, except for
two or three houses at long intervals.

The north road — the main
road of the present time, known as King Street, Milton Place and Milton Road
— was more strikingly different even than the Old Road. Milton Place then
marked the end of the town, if town is taken to mean the aggregation of
buildings ; and from Harmer Street to Chalk was a pleasant country road. The
present ” dip ” at Albion Place was then a roadway merging again into the main road
at Milton Church, divided only by a hedge from this road
for the


short distance it parted company. The railway was not then laid down.
Beyond Milton Church, at the tramway terminus, were a
few houses on the left at the corner of a road then terminating, so far as
so aimless a road can be said to terminate, in the marshy fields. There were
also two or three houses nearer the church on the opposite side of the way.
From this point onwards the road regained its rural character. The forge —
Joe Gargery’s forge it has been identified as — was the first building.
Three or four houses of the smaller kind, parts of them still standing at
the present day, clustered round these three corners facing the forge. The
green fields and hedges then intervened until we arrive at our corner,
the Honeymoon Cottage corner. Curiously enough, from our old map, we see
that this corner is the centre of the village. It was the first and the
principal object to strike the eye of the ” outsiders ” on the coach, and
from 1830 to the time of which I am writing there were many coaches to
Chatham, Rochester, Maidstone, and to Canterbury, where travellers to the


Kent Coast usually changed. But there is the significant fact that all the
travellers on the thirty or so coaches that passed it daily saw the cottage as a landmark
for some distance ahead. The plot of land upon which the cottage stood was the
centre of a “square.” In the light of Mr. Henry Fielding Dickens’s letter on p. 26 it is
of the utmost significance that the houses of the ” square” are, except for
the (now called) Manor House and one other, all on the higher or north
side and the east side. This shows conclusively, I think, that the north
road, fringing the marshes on its way past Lower Shorn, was here, at least,
of more importance than what is now the main road ; and would most certainly
have appeared so to anyone, some years ago, when the general aspect of the
village was much more rural than it is at the present day, and the houses
were much fewer in number. This lower road — then a coach road too, by the
way — still rejoins the present main road at Strood after meandering through
some of Kent’s very pleasant scenery, serving on the way some of the
villages which delighted Dickens so much that he introduced them into the
various works.

Getting to Chalk about this time, from 1830 to 1840, was quite romantic.
One could take the coach, travelling down from
London behind four spanking horses in about two hours, at any hour of the
day, and for that matter, of the night too, as there were in the
1830’s about thirty coaches each day; or one could take boat from
Billingsgate, a roomy, beamy sort of sailing barge that carried forty or
more passengers ; or (you see what a lot of ” or’s ” there are) one could
patronise the new ” Star ” and “Diamond ” lines of packet steamers that were
cutting each others’ throats while they cut the fares ; or, if one were
wealthy and retired like Mr. Pickwick, a saddle-horse or a post-chaise might
be indulged in, although there was not much ” indulgence ” when Mr.
Pickwick’s party availed themselves of these facilities. Of course one could
walk from London in a day, but that was neither dignified nor expeditious.

So far then I have tried to bring the


little village of Chalk, with its small square
and village alehouse, overlooked by the church in the distance and overawed
by the house of the gentry — not in the distance, before you. If I have not
succeeded, well !




Laman Blanchard, a friend of Dickens, and one whose memory is still
green, has given us the following passage which I give as found in ” The
Dickens Country,” by the late M. Kitton :

” In the village of Chalk (near Gravesend, on the main road to Dover) may still be seen the
cottage where that happy period was spent, and in which he wrote some of the
earlier pages of ‘ Pickwick’. It is a corner house on the southern side of
the road, advantageously situated for commanding views of the river Thames
and the far-stretching landscape beyond. In after-years, whenever his walks
led him to this spot, he invariably slackened his


pace on arriving at the house, and meditatively
glanced at it for a few minutes, mentally reviving the time when he and his
bride found a pleasant home within its hospitable walls. Shortly after the
birth of their eldest son, Dickens and his wife stayed at the honeymoon
cottage, which, with its red-tiled roof and dormer windows, is a picturesque
object on this famous coaching road.”

This was accepted by all the writers who followed him, without question : and if one might paraphrase
the old text — all they like sheep did go astray. So much so that when the
Gravesend Dickens Fellowship proposed to place a modest tablet on the
cottage, known variously as ” Dickens Cottage ” or ” The Honeymoon Cottage ”
they received the following letter which backed up the objection of the
Dickens Fellowship Headquarters to the local selection :

November 25th, 1910.
Dear Madam, — Replying to your letter of the 23rd, re the Honeymoon Cottage,


at Chalk, we take as our authority for the identification of the house in question,
the Dickens family, E. L. Blanchard, Kitton and Snowden Ward.

Yours very truly,

The letter was written on behalf of the Headquarters
Committee and weighted with all the authority of the expert opinion
available, so that some courage was required — moral courage of course — to
resist it.

But this is perhaps too abrupt a method of taking the
reader into the thick of a controversy that has passed and that the past may
be expected to bury. We will return to an account of how the cottage came to be discovered.

In 1906 soon after the Dickens Fellowship was first established in Gravesend,
Mr. Mullender, whose father — a hale and hearty man at the time of writing — enjoyed the pleasure
of personal knowledge of Charles Dickens and is very proud of a scarf
or sash bestowed upon him by the famous novelist on the occasion of one of


those ” sports ” which Dickens delighted to promote at Higham and elsewhere in the vicinity,
quite calmly propounded the theory that ” Dickens Cottage ” was the house in which the honeymoon was
passed, and not in the manor house a short distance farther on the road to

This was quite opposed to accepted orthodox theory. But
Mr. Mullender was so assured, and still further added to the
importance of his statement by saying that the fact was well known in the
village, that the proposition was at least worth inquiry.

This was undertaken by Mr. Beagley, now editor of The Erith
, and the result appeared in The Gravesend and Dartford Reporter of
March 10th, 1906.

This evidence is of so much interest that it
is reprinted here in full :

” This week one of our staff was commissioned to make some inquiries on the spot with regard to the subject.
On coming into contact with some of the residents of Chalk, he discovered that the argument


contained in our last issue had become one of the principal items for discussion in the village
during the week-end. To his surprise, he learned that the point raised by Mr. Mullender had
been talked about among the villagers for many years, and that, while
literary authorities bore out Mr. Waldegrave’s statement, Mr. Mullender had
many old inhabitants on his side. Mr. Kitton in his work states ‘ The villages of Shorne and Chalk,
with their ancient churches and peaceful churchyards, he (Dickens) frequently visited with ” a strange recurring
fondness.” ‘ Mr. E. Laman Blanchard has recorded that he often met,
and exchanged salutations with Dickens during his pedestrian excursions on
the high road leading from Rochester to Gravesend, and generally they passed
each other at about the same spot — at the out-skirts of the village of
Chalk, where a picturesque lane branched off towards Shorne and Cobham. ‘
Here’ says Mr. Blanchard, ( the brisk walk of Charles Dickens was always
slackened, and he never failed to glance meditatively for a


Executed by Mr. Percy Fitzgerald, and presented to the
Gravesend and District
Branch of the Dickens Fellowship.


few moments at the window of a corner house on the southern side of the road,
advantageously situated for commanding views of the river and the
far-stretching landscape beyond. It was in that house he lived immediately
after his marriage, and there many of the earlier chapters of ” Pickwick” were written. ‘

” There is no doubt as to the house which Mr. Kitton referred to, for his book contains a portrait of it,
and under the illustration he placed the words, ‘ The house at Chalk in which Dickens
spent his honeymoon, April, 1836’.  It is clear that Mr. Kitton
referred to the house at the corner of Thong Lane, which residence is now
generally known as Manor House, though the title deeds — the property being
on the Earl of Darnley’s estate — describes it as the Old Parsonage,
while some of the older residents call it the Old Rectory. Although we are
publishing these facts, ex parte, we would point out that the only authority
Mr. Kitton gave for his assertion was the statement of Mr. Blanchard. It is
also a fact worthy of notice that Mr. Percy Fitzgerald in his ‘ Life
of Charles Dickens’ makes no mention of the incident, while Mr. Forster in
his ‘ Life of Charles Dickens’
merely mentions the fact that the honey-moon
was spent at Chalk, without any statement as to the house.

“Mr. Charles Mullender accompanied our representative to Manor
House, and Mr. Boorman, the present occupier of the residence, ceased for a
while from work on his poultry farm in order to talk with them on the
subject in which he naturally takes a close interest. He stated that he had
read the report which appeared in our last issue, but could give no opinion
upon it. He was without any evidence that this was the house where Dickens
spent his honey-moon, beyond the fact that it was so ‘ by general

” A visit was next paid to Mr. Benjamin Hills, who, in
spite of his 89 years, is possessed of a remarkably strong memory, being
able to give minute particulars with regard to the parish in the earlier
part of the last century. His testimony is valuable by reason of the fact
that he was a gardener


at Manor House at the time that Dickens was married in 1836.
He informed us at that date the house was occupied by a M.
Leroux, a wealthy French surgeon, who came to reside there with his family.
It was in 1835 that Mr. Hills was employed by M. Leroux as a gardener and
the engagement extended without interruption until 1837. Thus he was at work
at Manor House at the date when, according to Mr. Kitton, Dickens came there
with his bride in April 1836. But Mr. Hills stoutly denies that Dickens came
there. M. Leroux did not receive any visitors, he said, and certainly did
not entertain any honeymoon couple. The doctor occupied the house himself
during the whole of the time that Mr. Hills was gardener, and the fact that
there were several daughters living with the father would not make the house
a very congenial abode for a young couple on their honeymoon.

This evidence by Mr. Hills, stated Mr. Mullender, was confirmed by
his (Mr. Mullender’s) grandmother who was born at Chalk, and was a young
woman when


M. Leroux occupied Manor House, and could also recall the former and subsequent tenants of the house.

” ‘ Where do you say, Mr. Mullender, is the house where
the honeymoon was
spent ? ‘ asked our representative.

” ‘
I will take you to it’  he said.

” They proceeded to a house of much less pretentious appearance. This weather- boarded,
old-fashioned cottage is situated on the north side of the present main
road. Those acquainted with the locality are aware that on the way to
Rochester, and just after the village school is passed, two roads branch off —
the main road, and what is called the lower road leading to the golf links
and the marshes. It will also have been noticed that these two roads
for a short distance form two of the sides of a triangle, Mr. Brann’s dairy
forming the base. At the top of this triangle is situated the house where,
according to Mr. Mullender, the honeymoon was spent, the present
tenants being Mr. and Mrs. Redsell. In 1836, he says, the tenants
were a Mr. and Mrs. Craddock, the parents of Mr. John


Craddock, who was for many years a well-known cabman in Gravesend,
and who was born at this house in 1832. Mr. and Mrs. Craddock lived at this cottage for some thirty or forty years,
and were in the habit of letting a parlour and bedroom. Mr. Mullender says his
grandmother also confirmed this statement. Beyond this fact there is at
present no further evidence in support of Mr. Mullender’s contention,
but it must be remembered that no special notice would be taken of Mr. and
Mrs. Dickens engaging apartments at the house, for Dickens had yet to
make his name known.

” There is, however, this fact, that Dickens when describing the visit of Pickwick to Bath after the breach of
promise case, tells of Pickwick becoming a lodger at the house of a Mrs. Craddock.

” Another interesting feature is that in the earlier part of the last century the main road to Dover from London did
not proceed in its present straight course but, at the point of the triangle
referred to, went down the present lower road and then took a sharp
turn to the south again. The


houses opposite Mr. Brann’s dairy at one time
formed an hostelry, as the front part of the houses even now indicate, and
it was customary for the stage-coaches to make a call there.

“While they were perambulating the parish, Mr.
Mullender mentioned to our representative what he described as
another mistaken idea with regard to the description of this neighbourhood.
In ‘ Great Expectations’ was a description of an old forge which could be
entered by a door from the kitchen of the adjoining house.

” In the work referred to above, Mr. Kitton stated that “within a short distance
from the (Cooling) churchyard, we may identify, in a short row of cottages
the original of Joe’s (Gargery’s) forge.”

“Mr. Mullender states that inquiries among the oldest inhabitants of
Cooling give no evidence of a forge existing at Cooling. That being so, what
forge had Dickens in his mind when he wrote about a blacksmith’s shop where
there was a doorway leading from the forge into the kitchen of the house ?
Such an arrange-


ment is exceptional. Mr. Mullender took our representative into the forge at Chalk
and there showed him the old doorway which at one time gave entrance from the forge into the kitchen.”

Some discrepancies in Hills’ statements have been found, but
these do not invalidate his evidence in the main, and, in spite of what has
been said at different times, are easily explained by lapse of memory in an
old man of nearly ninety years of age after a lapse of seventy
years. It would appear that he was either gardener to Mr. Dorehill before
Dr. Leroux took up his residence in the house or that Dr. Leroux took part
of Mr. Dorehill’s term of two years. Which, is not quite certain, and is not
of much importance.

A few articles appeared on the subject from
time to time, mostly from my own pen, but as the Gravesend and District
Branch of the Dickens Fellowship came to an untimely end shortly after, the
matter may be said to have lain in abeyance, until a year or two back when
the Branch of the Fellowship was resuscitated. One


of the earliest acts undertaken by the re-formed
local Fellowship was to place a tablet on the cottage. And it was this that
brought down the thunder and lightning of various opponents, and culminated
in the letter given in the opening of this chapter.

With that fairness which one looks for without disappointment, the headquarters of the
Fellowship, having gained time for the further consideration of the subject,
set themselves to work to obtain verification of the opinion they had
previously expressed.

The ” cottage theory” as the one side of
this truly Pickwickian controversy had come by this time to be called, was
still further strengthened by the receipt of the following letter from the
late Mr. Newman, who was a considerable writer on local matters,
addressed to the Honorary Secretary of the Gravesend and District Branch of
the Dickens Fellowship.

1, Hilton Villas,
Whitehill Koad,

November 13th, 1910.
Miss Chambers, — When the Fellowship


was started I was living in North London, and
was one of the first batch of members, and through remembering Dickens so
well, was able to interest them somewhat. But I am an old man now (75) and
spending my evening with my son here, and have quite given up taking an
active part in any thing, though, thank God, I am able to get about and
enjoy the scenery in and around the old town in which I spent the greater
part of my life.

I should like to mention that I am glad to know
there is to be a tablet attached to the cottage in which Dickens spent his
honeymoon, and wrote great part of the ” Pickwick Papers”  if not all, but I
hope they will put it on the right one, and not on the Manor House at
the bottom of Thong Lane.

Mr. Arnold‘s Memorial Tablet in
memory of Pocock in High Street seems to have been the only one in

I remain, dear madam,
Yours respectfully,
George Newman.


A direct inquiry by the local branch of the
Fellowship elicited the following from Mr. Henry Fielding Dickens, K.C. :

2, Egerton Place, S.W.
November 26th, 1910.

Dear Madam, — The house at Chalk where my father lived for a
short time is on the high road from Gravesend to Rochester at the corner of
a by-road on the right hand side going to Rochester.
I can give no more definite information than this.

Yours truly,
Henry F. Dickens.

This letter has given rise to a good deal of
discussion, and further inquiry has not been able to add anything to the
information it contains.

Indubitably the Manor House is on the
right-hand side of the road going to Rochester and it is situated at the
corner of a by-road. But there are two roads going to Rochester. Years ago
the lower, or north road was probably of greater importance, and so the
Honeymoon Cottage


also ” fills the bill,” if I may use the
expression, instead of saying that the small cottage also satisfies the
requirements of these conditions as laid down.

A few days later I received a letter from Mr. B. W. Matz, one of the best known of
Dickensians, describing the method he had used in obtaining further
information from other members of the family :

December 3rd,
Dear Mr. Philip, — After writing to you the other day I wrote to
Mrs. Perugini myself, enclosing the cutting you sent and also the copy of
the Dickensian containing the picture of the smaller house with the facts
concerning Mr. Mullender‘s discovery. I made no comment on either
claimant, but just asked her if she would say which she thought was the
house in question. She sends me a letter to-day and I hasten to forward you
a copy of it, which justifies my suggestion that your meeting’s decision to
appeal to the family was a wise one.

Yours very truly,
B. W. Matz.


The first letter from Mrs. Perugini, the daughter of Charles Dickens,
was altogether in support of the claims of the
” Dickens Cottage ” or small house, as that in which the honeymoon had been

Dear Mr. Matz, — From what I remember having been told, I
should say it was the smaller house that deserves the tablet. When we lived
at Gad’s Hill it had, I think, a small garden and orchard, the garden running round it.
This may have been altered in later days — but to
make assurance doubly sure I wrote to Miss Hogarth to hear what she thought
about it, and she writes me : ” It is certainly the smaller of the two
houses” and she adds that, it is on the high road from Chalk to Gravesend.
We neither of us remember the name Thong Lane. It is on the road opposite
the church, I believe.

Yours very sincerely,
November 30th, 1910.

The description contained in this short letter does not apply in any way to the


Manor House, which, although it has an orchard and land attached
to it, has no ” garden running round it.” The cottage, on the other hand,
still has a garden all round, although the land to the east of the building
has been built over.

However, so that there might be no doubt
whatever regarding the matter so far as Mrs. Perugini could add to the sum
total of knowledge concerning it, or verifying anything already known, Mr.
Matz obtained a further letter from her as follows : —

Dear Mr. Matz, — I think you may rest satisfied as to the small cottage at Chalk
being really the ” honeymoon house.” My aunt, Miss Hogarth, has a
wonderfully good memory, while my own is not a bad one, and we agree in
feeling certain that the Craddock cottage should claim the tablet. It
certainly looks a poor little dwelling-place, now, but in 1836 was probably
pretty enough to tempt my father into taking it for a few weeks. I was never
told he rented it for any length of time, but I heard my mother speak very


of ” the little cottage at Chalk ” where she passed her honeymoon,
and I always supposed the very small house to be that identical cottage.

But if any doubt remains in your mind or in
the minds of those other admirers of my father who wish to honour his
memory, would it not be better to abstain from marking either of these
houses with a tablet than run the risk of placing it on the wrong one ? We
all know my father did pass his honeymoon at Chalk and that he returned to
it after his first child was born, therefore we may imagine he was constantly
walking about the lanes and roads, liking the place and
pleased to find himself there. Is not this sufficient — or if a tablet must
be placed somewhere in commemoration of his visits — why not put it on a
wall at the entrance to village and leave the two houses alone ?

I return you the cutting from local paper, and with kind regards

Yours very sincerely,
Kate Perugini.

December 2nd, 1910.


At a later date Miss Hogarth penned a further letter to the Honorary Secretary of the local
branch of the Fellowship in which she says :

August 16th, 1911.

I am very sorry I cannot give you any information as to the name
of the person who kept the house at Chalk where Mr. and Mrs. Dickens spent
their honeymoon. It was quite an ordinary small house, and I have no doubt
has changed hands many times since that date. I was a very small child in
those days — and I was not even present at my sister’s wedding. I do
remember spending a day at the Chalk house when they were staying
there the year after their marriage — but I don’t recollect much about it.

Some little time before his death, on the occasion of the
unveiling of the tablet and bust, Mr. Newman sent what he evidently regarded
as a final confirmatory letter, a benediction on the ceremony he had


1, Hilton Villas,

Whitehill Road,

June 14th, 1911.
. . Please excuse a few lines to tell you how pleased I was to see the
Dickens Memorial placed over the door of the right cottage. I have been
quite sure of it all along, because when I was in business in Gravesend the
occupant of the cottage was a customer of mine (Mrs. Craddock) as
long as fifty years ago ! and I have heard her talk about Dickens having had
apartments there — at that time too I often met Dickens himself in my walks
on Sunday afternoons with the late Alderman E. C. Paine. We were both young
men then and had not long commenced business — but those meetings with
Dickens on the road and hearing him talk to his boys are fresh in memory

The following lines were penned by him at the same time.
The ” best friend ” referred to is, of course, Mr. Percy Fitzgerald who
executed the bust now over the doorway.


From a little-known

How does the touching scene to-day-
Remind us of the fleeting wings
Of Time, which ever bears away
Both men and all terrestrial things !
It seems a little while since he
Whom now we honour, lived and moved
Among us, ever cheerful, free —
Surrounded by the friends he loved.
His countenance we knew so well,
His voice and form remembered too ;
But only as a memory dwell
Now with the ever-dwindling few.
In the great seething world to-day,
His works in myriad breasts inspire
New life and courage by the way,
And Sympathy’s soul-kindling fire.
And many a one will linger here
To gaze upon this simple shrine,
Which his best friend is spared to rear —
Memento of a love benign.

I will deal with some of the objections
that have been raised to the selection of


the Gravesend and District Branch of the Fellowship and to their
decision to place a tablet on the ” small house ” before I proceed to
describe the successive steps that were taken to give effect to this decision.

It must be explained first that
there were four claimant houses in the village.

As a matter of fact, while the discussion was at the height of its
Pickwickian acrimoniousness, I think this number was largely exceeded ; the
difficulty being rather to find a house in the village in which Dickens did
not stop. Two of these, however, were quickly put out of court. The
testimony in favour of one was very cousin-german to the truth, and did not
even rest on hearsay ; the other was too nearly related to the ” So-and-so
said so ” order to be seriously considered, particularly in face of the fact
that this particular so-and-so was not producible. The two remaining were
the Manor House, which was originally the Parsonage, and the Dickens Cottage.

One of the objections raised I have already dealt with, viz., that Hills was


gardener to Leroux in April 1836. The re-naming of the Parsonage as the Manor House,
has been held to be evidence against the Cottage, although the train of reasoning by which this
conclusion was arrived at still remains a mystery to me. For many years past
it has been the practice to call houses of all kinds by names having no
significance, or an outrageous one. ” The Priory,” “The Grange,” “The
Castle”, “The Moat House,” “The Hall,” “The Court,” are a few of the
house-names which the fancy of the owners has bestowed upon buildings
without even the most remote connection with those they are supposed to
represent. With an avidity the antiquarian must deplore, some house-proud
owners and tenants have combined two or more names, such as ” Grange Court.”
So that I do not think any odium can be said to rest upon the memory of the
tenant who changed the name of the old Parsonage to that of the Manor House.

It has been urged that Dickens with £30 in his pocket — paid him
for the first two numbers of ” Pickwick ” — was in a


position to demand the best the little village could lay before
him — in fact, more than the best available, as this magnificent sum is
supposed to have given both him and his bride the entree into the largest
and best house within a radius of a mile or more. After all, what was this
sum ? Dickens had been receiving seven guineas a week. This he had
relinquished : and thirty pounds — the equivalent of four weeks’ salary — is
supposed to have been so large a sum in his eyes that he threw it about
lavishly and without thought, and that he lived like a prince on it for the
whole of his honeymoon !

” It couldn’t be done, Samuel ! Not at the price ! ”

Thirty pounds and Dickens would, I feel sure, soon
have parted company, without his taking over the old Parsonage.

I have now in one way or another given the evidence of the
family, of probability, of those who lived in the village of Chalk, and of
those who living there then gave their message to their friends and their relatives.
Everything points so conclusively


to the Honeymoon Cottage that the only factor that could be
admitted as of sufficient importance to reopen consideration of the subject
would be a letter or some other documentary evidence of a contemporary
nature. Blanchard’s letter is the only fault in the chain : and that was
written many years after, and even after Dickens’s death, by one who did not
know him in the early years of his literary struggles.

This was the ground on which the Gravesend and District Branch
of the Dickens Fellowship took their stand when they decided to place a
memorial tablet on the cottage on June 14th, 1911. After the delay
incidental to obtaining sufficient data to satisfy the doubts of
headquarters the matter was pushed ahead. The incised gunmetal tablet had to
be made, and at one time it almost appeared as though it would never see the
sunshine glinting on it from the corner of Cobham Woods : and as a matter of
fact such turned out to be the case as, when we invited Mr. Percy Fitzgerald
to be present at the ceremony


of unveiling our unimposing tablet, he presented us with a large marble plate, gilt lettered,
with a bronze plaque of the famous novelist’s familiar features. I suppose
there is now no one living better able to recall Dickens as he was, outside
the intimate relations of his family circle, than Mr. Fitzgerald. Most
Dickensians are, and all should be, acquainted with his charming books on
Dickens and his works. But it is when one hears Mr. Fitzgerald on his
favourite theme that one is able to realize how much his memories mean to
him. The plate and plaque presented to the Gravesend and District Branch of
the Dickens Fellowship for the Honeymoon Cottage was most distinctly a
labour of love. They were fixed over the doorway — the front doorway, that
is — of the cottage, and the original gun metal tablet was placed on the
north wall at the corner.

Chalk was en fete the day the unveiling took place. The Mayor of Gravesend performed the ceremony, and the
Rochester Branch of the Fellowship was strongly represented by some forty
members. But perhaps I had better let eyewitnesses give their impressions as
they appeared in the local papers of the time :

” The Mayor of Gravesend, Alderman H. E. Davis, J.P., C.C., on Wednesday (June 14th, 1911),
unveiled a handsome black marble plaque and head of the late Charles Dickens
over the doorway of the little boarded cottage at Chalk, in which the
novelist spent his honeymoon, and in which some of the earlier chapters of
‘Pickwick Papers’ were written. The occasion was rendered particularly
interesting by reason of the presence of Mr. Percy Fitzgerald, who was a
great personal friend of Dickens, and who executed the bust and presented it
to the Gravesend, Northfleet and District Branch of the Dickens Fellowship,
with whom the idea of marking the cottage in this way first originated.
Accompanying the Mayor was the Mayoress, and amongst those also present were
the Rev. G. W. Mennie (president of the Branch), who presided over the
ear her portion of the proceedings, Lieut. Col. and Mrs. Lawrence Gadd, Mr.
and Mrs. A. J.


Philip, Miss M. Chambers (hon. sec. of the Gravesend branch
of the Fellowship), Messrs. H. Smetham and A. W. Ratcliffe (president and
hon. sec. of the Rochester branch), Mrs. E. C. Paine, Mrs. and Miss Barlow,
the Town Clerk (Mr. H. H. Brown, B.A.), Mr. George Sharland,
the Rev. E. A. and Mrs. Davies, Mrs. Brooker, Messrs. Gilbert, Councillor
and Mrs. F. Goldsmith, Councillor Howard Burton, Councillor J. Huartson,
Councillor W. J. Harrington, Mr. and Mrs. Cruse, Mrs. De Frame, Mr. and Mrs.
Harding, Mr. and Mrs. S. Blandford, Mr. and Mrs. D. Martin, Miss Weaver, and
others, besides Mr. Marriott (hon. treasurer of the London Fellowship), and
many others. At a later stage in the proceedings the Rector (the Rev. Canon
Gedge), and the Rev. S. J. Poole attended.

“In opening the proceedings, the President introduced Mr. Percy Fitzgerald, stating that no
living man was better qualified to speak to them about Dickens and the
memories of that great and immortal man than the gentleman who then honoured
them with his presence (applause).


Percy Fitzgerald said he might call himself the last surviving literary
friend of Charles Dickens, and it was a great pleasure for him to be present
on that occasion. He would have travelled a good many miles to be present,
much further than he had come that day. At the same time, there was a sort
of melancholy feeling in it, because his mind travelled back over a very
long stretch of years, about forty years, to the day when he was
walking with Dickens, and he was showing him (the speaker) all the beauties
of that enchanting part of Kent, and they actually passed over that very
ground. That, as he had said, was a long time ago, and he could
imagine now if some unseen spirit were to have whispered in the ear of
Dickens that the young man who was walking with him then on that very spot
would forty years later be looking at a picture of him done by himself, who
would have credited such a thing ? He had another memory of Dickens
connected with Kent and Gravesend, and in his mind he saw Dickens and
himself, and the novelist’s charming daughters


and sister-in-law at Gravesend at the strange hour of nearly midnight. They had
been spending a whole day in Hertfordshire, at Lord Lytton’s place, where
there had been a function of some sort. On that occasion Dickens excelled
himself. Lord Lytton and he spoke of each other and of their old
friendships, and it was a really delightful day. After it was all over they
found themselves at Gravesend somewhere about ten or eleven o’clock at
night, and there was an Irish jaunting car which Dickens often drove on, and
they were driven home through the night by Dickens himself. He supposed
there was no one else existing who could claim to have been driven by
Dickens. With regard to the character of Dickens, the speaker said the late
novelist was one of the most extraordinarily amiable men that ever existed.
He (the speaker) had met all sorts and conditions of men, some agreeable and
some disagreeable, but Dickens was of a uniform temper, always kind and
gentle. He was never anxious to take the first place, but was always content
to take


second place. He liked to hear others speak, but
never wanted to hear himself speak. In short, he was a sort of model man,
and he could assure them that to those who knew him in his house at Gad’s
Hill and contrasted him with the ordinary host or the ordinary head of a
family, it was a revelation, as it was to see Dickens dance about, brilliant
and gleaming with life like the youngest man in the room, and his two
daughters circling their arms around his neck just as if he were their
brother. He used to keep on acting small plays, and everything he did he did
in a most delightful way.

” The Mayor then unveiled the tablet in the following speech : —

” I need hardly tell you how much I value the privilege you have conferred upon me by inviting me to unveil this
medallion and tablet this afternoon. We are at a later stage to have the
pleasure of hearing several gentlemen discourse upon Charles Dickens and his
works, so I do not propose to detain you by any observations of my own upon
the subject of the great novelist.


All I wish to say is that, living as we do in
Gravesend, practically in the heart of Dickens’ land, it is eminently
fitting that we should have a branch of that useful society, the Dickens
Fellowship. I am glad to say that our branch is strong in numbers and active
in its good work. I think that is testified to by the numbers who have made
this little pilgrimage to Chalk (applause).

” I have very great pleasure in unveiling this medallion and tablet to commemorate the
indubitable honeymoon cottage of Charles Dickens.

” The Mayor then pulled the cord which held the curtains, and the tablet, a beautiful
piece of work, was unveiled. Surrounding a splendidly executed head of the
novelist was the date of his birth and death, and a record of the fact that
in that cottage he spent his honeymoon and wrote the earlier chapters of “Pickwick”

“Proceeding, the Mayor said he had a further pleasant
task, and that was on behalf of the society to thank Mr. Percy Fitzgerald
for so generously coming to


their aid and presenting us with the memorials. Mr. Fitzgerald was too well known among
students and lovers of Dickens to need any words of recommendation. Wherever
admirers of Dickens congregated together, his name was known as a serious
and devoted student of the great author, not only of his works, but of his
personal history, and indeed of everything with which the name of Charles
Dickens is associated (applause). He had given them a further proof of
his enthusiasm by so kindly giving them those memorials and by making the
long journey from London down to that little wayside village of Chalk
(applause). He could only say that they as a society gave Mr. Fitzgerald a
most cordial welcome to Gravesend, and thanked him very sincerely for his

” Replying to the hearty vote of thanks accorded him, Mr.
Fitzgerald referred to the bust of Dickens, and said he knew the image of
Dickens by heart, and nobody was better able than he, through personal associations
with him, to reproduce his features more faithfully.


” Col. Gadd proposed a vote of thanks to the
Mayor. They all knew of the Mayor’s public spiritedness and his unfailing
readiness to respond to any call affecting Gravesend, its dignity, its
well-being or its social amenities (applause). The Gravesend Branch of the
Dickens Fellowship was particularly indebted to His Worship and to the
Mayoress for their valuable and sympathetic support from the first moment of
the resuscitated branch.

” Mr. G. Sharland seconded the motion,
which was carried with acclamation, and the Mayor having briefly responded,
this part of the ceremony ended.

” The cottage which has been marked by this tablet is held on a lease by Mr. 0. Mullender, and is
tenanted by Mr. E. Eedsell.

This does not pretend to be an exhaustive treatise. The history of the Honeymoon Cottage and its tenants
has not been traced during the nearly eighty years that have passed since
Dickens was there : this could scarcely be of much interest and of less
utility, but the son and daughter of the Mr. and Mrs. Craddock who


Dickens’s landlord and landlady are still living
in Gravesend at the time of writing. Hills is dead and there is now no one
living, so far as I have been able to discover, who can impart first-hand
knowledge of England’s great novelist at that period.

Chalk’s interest for the ardent Dickensian is not confined
to the Honeymoon Cottage. On the opposite side of the way the forge,
identified as the original of Joe Gargery’s on account of the door leading
from the forge to the kitchen, may be seen. And here, within the memories of
those still living, were a man and woman who were prototypes of Orlick and
Pip’s sister, although this Orlick resembled the character only in
appearance, being in reality a gentle-hearted man.

From the centre of the village one can almost see the Ship and Lobster in the
neighbouring parish of Denton, the original of the ” Ship ” in ” Great
Expectations,” standing gaunt and bleak on the river wall.

Church with its curious carving over the door, a relic, probably of a long
series of church-ales, stands on a little knoll a short distance farther on.


Shorne, with the ” prettiest churchyard in
Kent,” is a little to the south, hidden by trees, but with its position
strongly marked by the remains of a windmill. Here it was that Heyling’s
wife was buried (in ” Pickwick “) and where Dickens himself wished to
be laid to rest.

It would be possible to write at greater length
about Dickens and Gravesend and the surrounding district — Gravesend as
Muggleton alone opens up a wide field ! — but I must leave that for another
occasion when at a later date I can deal with the larger subject as a whole.
This little brochure is intended only to put on record the grounds on which
the Committee of the local branch of the Dickens Fellowship decided upon the
; so that, if at any future date, some unforeseen event, such as the
discovery of documentary evidence of any kind, should take place, it will be
possible to allocate it to its proper sphere, and to admit it only after the
most careful scrutiny.


1957: Nash’s Cottage, Gravesend Library notes

At the junction of Lower Higham Road and Chalk Road in the village of Chalk is
Craddock’s Cottage that, for a long time, was thought to be the cottage where
Charles Dickens spent his honeymoon. Indeed, the cottage has a bust of
Dickens, by Percy Fitzgerald (a personal friend of Charles Dickens), with a
tablet stating that it is here that Dickens spent his honeymoon. Craddock’s cottage was identified as Dickens Honeymoon abode by research carried out by
Gravesend Borough librarian Alex J. Philip (librarian 1903-1946). However, an
authenticated handwritten letter by Dickens at the time was sent from Mrs
Nash’s, which was 18 Lower Higham Road. This cottage was demolished in 1957
and a picture is shown here.

Mrs Nash’s cottage, 18 Higham Road, also possibly the cottage where Dickens
spent his honeymoon. There are also two other places that claim to be Dickens
honeymoon cottage, and these are “The Manor House” in Chalk Road and the now
demolished “Malt House Farm” on the corner of West Court Lane and Lower Higham

More information can be found in A. J. Philip,
Dickens Honeymoon and Where He Spent It. 1911. Available for reference
at Gravesend Library.

References and further information:

An A to Z History of Chalk” by Christoph Bull. First edition published 1984,
second edition published – 1992. Available at Gravesend Library for
Chalk Church an Illustrated Guide“, updated and re-written by Christoph Bull
1997. Available at Chalk Church to purchase for £1.50.
The Great Expectations Country” by W. Laurence Gadd 1929. Available for
reference at Gravesend Library.
A Historical Walk Through Gravesend And Northfleet” published by Gravesend
Historical Society.

Craddock’s Cottage today

Craddock’s Cottage, Chalk,  Kent, with plaque of Charles Dickens
Photos copyright and courtesy of © Carole Turner March 2016

Craddocks Cottage Chalk Kent 2021

Screenshot: Craddock’s Cottage, 24 Chalk Road, Chalk, Kent. Google Maps 2021.

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