I find Halloween as one of the most meh holidays of the year. There was a time in my life when I was super excited to pick a fancy dress and then go to a house party or go out in London, but this time has passed unfortunately! Now I’m not excited about fancy dressing, I don’t go out of my way to find an awesome party to attend and I don’t really like partying up during the week! However when an interesting event props up on my timeline, I find it my duty to attend and let all of you know about it after! So when a good friend sent me a message with an exciting evening at the Charles Dickens Museum, I thought it would be great!
As you can probably guess from the title, it was an evening dedicated at Halloween held at the Charles Dickens Museum near King’s Cross station. In fact the museum is about 15 minutes away from the station, which is terribly convenient if you are a tourist staying close by, or for every Londoner who wants to visit. I’ve been there before and I can tell you I loved it! First of all, it was a guided tour with a volunteer or an actor (I cannot for the life of me remember whichever they were) taking us through all the rooms of the Victorian house, giving us interesting tidbits about the life of the Dickens family in London and in essence transporting us back to 1830s. She was also dressed up like a Victorian lady and that was also exciting for us!
The Halloween night though was everything but that! There wasn’t a dramatised guided tour and even though I still remembered some details I really wasn’t as knowledgeable as a guide! But let me explain the things from the beginning… We booked tickets for a late slot (8:30pm), as all the earlier ones were fully booked, so we thought we would have time to experience everything! When we arrived, one of the volunteers told us that there was a fortune teller on the basement doing tarot readings (that I wanted to go to), a silhouette cutter creating portraits to be taken away as souvenirs (that my friend wanted to see) and some storytelling happening on the first floor.
We thought we could see them all, but oh how wrong we were! After seeing the dining room and morning room, we went downstairs to the scullery and kitchen, where tarot reading was taking place. To our surprise there was a long queue, as around 20 people were waiting in the line! We decided not to waste any time there and instead visited the far more exciting scullery and washhouse. My friend found the house copper quite interesting, as it was used not only for washing linen (obviously), but also for preparing hot water for baths and even once a year for steaming puddings. Even if it sounds unhealthy to us, it was really a common practice back then.
So, despite the fact that tarot reading didn’t pan out for us, we still had the storytelling and the silhouette making thing! Right? Haha, we’d see about that! We ascended to the first floor, where Charles Dickens’ study and the drawing room were. In the drawing room, there was Dominic Gerrard was performing dramatic extracts cut from frightening tales of the Dickensian times. However the door was shut, so we went straight to the study. Honestly I am not kidding you, this is exactly what happened! We were only able to admire the study, with most of the books being works published in Dickens’ lifetime, as well as some translated volumes. The warmth of the study is unparalleled, with wood all around. This is definitely a place where you can get inspired!
The second floor was where the main bedrooms were and I can tell you that my friend really liked Mary Hogarth’s room. It is beautiful and feminine, an ideal bedroom of a woman of only 16. She also liked the dressing room and Dickens’ formal dress, but I fell in love with the wooden wardrobe in the master bedroom! I only wish I can have one of these someday, not only because of its size and space, but also because of all the little details in the wood. After the second floor, we went up to the third floor, to the nursery and where the portrait cutter was. Again if you can believe it, there was another queue there with people waiting! I swear by then my patience ran thin and I wanted to just leave, but there was a silver lining!
As we were descending, we noticed that the door of the drawing room was open and we could finally listen to a story! We went inside and Dominic Gerrard was ready to perform, like Charles Dickens himself used to do, so we found a space on the floor and sat down. The story was about to begin! Taken from “The Ensouled Violin”, it was fascinating! A delightful story, the dramatised reading of it really saved the night, so I am very grateful for Dominic! He was the saving grace of our Halloween evening!
Along with the main exhibition, there is also a special exhibition called “Global Dickens: For Every Nation Upon Earth”, which we also visited. As you imagine, it explores the impact of his travels on his writing and also how Charles Dickens became a global writer, inspiring people the world over. In the exhibition we found a Manga edition of A Christmas Carol and also a David Copperfield copy that even travelled to Antarctica with the Scott expedition! Yes, the “Global Dickens” was the second saving grace of the night!
Even if we had lots of misgivings about our Halloween night at Charles Dickens Museum, which can be explained by the lack of organisation in my mind, it was interesting to say the least. In my view, if you create slots for an event, then there should be slots for tarot reading or storytelling for example, no? I found it frustrating that we weren’t able to participate in anything, apart from Dominic Gerrard’s dramatised performance! Anyway, I am glad that we visited the museum, I saw my friend and if I want a tarot reading, I am already booking this experience from somewhere else!
Till next time,