Charles Dickens' Birthplace Museum

Charles Dickens' Birthplace Museum Charles Dickens was born in this house on 7th February 1812. The Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum is the perfect place to start exploring and experiencing the work of one of England’s most famous and best-loved writers.
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Charles Dickens was born in this house, then known as 1 Mile End Terrace, on 7th February 1812. It was the first married home of his parents, John and Elizabeth Dickens. Here you can experience the authentic atmosphere of the comfortable Regency home which would have greeted the new-born Dickens. Much of Victorian Portsmouth still remains in the city’s streets and heritage, drawn upon by Dickens himself in Nicholas Nickleby. The Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum is the perfect place to start exploring and experiencing the work of one of England’s most famous and best-loved writers. 2015 - 2016 Opening Hours Charles Dickens' Birthplace Museum is closed between October 2015 to the end of March 2016, with the following exceptions; Christmas Weekend Opening Open from Friday 4th to Sunday 6th December, 10am - 5pm Special opening to celebrate Dickens' Birthday Sunday 7th February, 10am - 5pm. Last admission 30 minutes before closing time.

Today in Portsmouth, we are celebrating the life of one of our most popular authors Charles Dickens.Every stage of his l...
09/06/2020

Today in Portsmouth, we are celebrating the life of one of our most popular authors Charles Dickens.

Every stage of his life is re-imagined through our fantastic Dickens collection; from his family’s early beginnings in Portsmouth; the formative years as a young author; as a mature respected writer; lecturer and family man living in Doughty Street in London where he wrote Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby; to the established and internationally acclaimed ‘greatest novelist of the Victorian era living at Gads Hill, in Rochester Kent.

One of the most unassuming yet captivating objects in the collection is a green velvet chaise longue. It is now known as ‘the death couch’ and upon which Charles Dickens died on this day in 1870. Dickens at the time of his death was living at Gads Hill Place in Kent with his family. He had been working on Edwin Drood which was to become his final novel.

On the 8th June he suffered a stroke and had been moved to the chaise longue were he remained until he died the following day.

So, how did this object end up in Portsmouth? In 1909, shortly after the Charles Dickens Birthplace became a museum, this piece of furniture and other personal effects were donated by Georgina Howarth, Charles Dickens sister-in-law, to build up the collection.

Today that same collection consists of over 1500 objects, illustrations, photographs, letters and personal effects re-telling the story of a man whose legacy is still strong today.
150 years after his death he remains one of the most well-known and most-read English authors, with his stories consistently adapted for the screen since the invention of cinema. He was the author of fifteen novels, and also wrote short stories, essays and articles on social reform. He created some of the best-known fictional characters of his time such as Oliver Twist, Ebenezer Scrooge and Miss Haversham. In addition to writing he brought his characters to life in his charismatic and exuberant public readings, which gained him international repute. He was admired by many literary peers including William Wordsworth , Leo Tolstoy, Jules Verne and Roald Dahl.

In honour of his life and the current situation we are living through, we have chosen a light-hearted quote from him that is more relevant than ever…

'There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.' Charles Dickens FRSA (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870)

Following Government advice around Coronavirus, which includes minimising social contact to help prevent the spread of t...
18/03/2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Following Government advice around Coronavirus, which includes minimising social contact to help prevent the spread of the virus, Portsmouth City Council is focusing on ensuring essential services continue to run. Because of this, the Charles Dickens' Birthplace Museum will be closed until further notice. Up-to-date information about council services will be available on our website at www.portsmouth.gov.uk/coronavirus

This page gives you the latest information about services affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Today we are celebrating the archaeology collection as part of #PM125.The collection contains thousands of artefacts ran...
25/02/2020

Today we are celebrating the archaeology collection as part of #PM125.

The collection contains thousands of artefacts ranging in date from the Lower Palaeolithic period to the 20th century which have been gathered since 1945.

The majority is made up of archaeological archives produced as a result of research and development lead investigations. As well as finds these also contain paper records such as reports, plans and photographs. Many archives from the late 1960s to the 1980s relate to work carried out by archaeologists at Portsmouth Museum.

There is also material from smaller projects and stray finds donated by professional and amateur archaeologists and members of the public. These include large collections of prehistoric flint tools, part of a hoard of Roman coins from Eastney and a 13th century roof finial found under the backyard of the Dolphin Hotel.

One of the most important archives we hold is for Oyster Street in Old Portsmouth, which contains material dating from the 12th century to the late 19th century. Other significant sites include Saxon cemeteries at Southwick Hill Crossroads and Bevis Grave on Portsdown Hill and Snell's Corner, Horndean. Finds include shield bosses, spearheads, combs, bracelets and beads.

Today we concentrate on collecting material from within the Portsmouth city boundary, but the collection also includes archives and finds from outlying areas. A few examples are Bronze Age hoards from HMS Sultan in Gosport and Gable Head on Hayling Island, Roman tile and pottery kilns at Crookhorn and Rowlands Castle and a Roman villa at Langstone.

Follow Portsmouth Historic Environment Record to find out more about archaeology in the city.

You might wonder what we spend our time doing and probably one of the most time consuming things is collections manageme...
24/02/2020

You might wonder what we spend our time doing and probably one of the most time consuming things is collections management. What's that we hear you say?

Collections management is all the work that needs to be done to develop, care for and document the collection. It also includes how we use the collection, whether for exhibitions, research or workshops and managing this. It is a balancing act between what everyone wants from the collection now and thinking about future generations and how we make sure that these precious objects last so that they can enjoy them.

It really does involve everything from organising the move of something like a landing craft to making sure the database is up to date! #PM125

Today to mark the 125th anniversary of Portsmouth Museums, we are looking at the history of @CumberlandHouseNHM.In 1851 ...
15/02/2020

Today to mark the 125th anniversary of Portsmouth Museums, we are looking at the history of @CumberlandHouseNHM.

In 1851 Jonathan Gain, a paymaster in the army, sold farmland at the site to Richard Murrell, a brewer, who built Cumberland House a few years later. Named after nearby Fort Cumberland, Cumberland House originally consisted of two blocks and a coach house, separated by a courtyard. There was also a stable with hay lofts.

Richard Murrell never lived in the house but leased it to army officers and their families. Richard's son, Richard John, extended the central block of the house and added an east and west wing.

Richard John died in 1884, leaving Cumberland House in trust to his sister Mary Ann Charlotte Gittens and her husband John. Their tenant, John Playfair, died in 1887 and his widow Emily continued to live in the house and later bought the house from Mary Ann and John's son and daughters in 1919.

Following Emily's death in 1928, Cumberland House was auctioned and bought for the city by Alderman Porter.

Between 1929 and 1931, the council converted Cumberland House into a museum and art gallery. The first exhibitions were local art and photography displayed in three of the first-floor rooms. Natural history and ethnography were displayed on the ground floor.

Cumberland House remained open until damage to plasterwork, windows, roofing and rendering during air raids in 1941 and 1944 forced the closure of the museum. Following its re-opening in 1951, displays included local and social history, art and natural history. After the opening of Southsea Castle in 1967, the focus in Cumberland House shifted towards natural history.

In 2017 a new butterfly house was built to replace an older structure. Whilst the building’s purpose and structure have changed and grown over the last 180 years, it remains an ever-popular museum of natural history, providing inspiration and learning to all who visit #PM125

Portsmouth Museums service has had a long history of installing and hosting exhibitions for the public. The first art ex...
13/02/2020

Portsmouth Museums service has had a long history of installing and hosting exhibitions for the public. The first art exhibition at what was then called Cumberland House Museum and Art Gallery was opened by the Lord Mayor on this day 89 years ago in 1931.

It featured about 200 pictures all of them the work of local artists including W.L. Wyllie, Gunning King, W.A. Jefferies and Ada Dumas of Southsea who exhibited views of Normandy and Brittany. The Hampshire Telegraph and Post reviewed the exhibition as having been 'artistically hung with pictures of Portsmouth and Southsea, Southsea beach and gardens, the Guildhall, and Old Portsmouth, along with views from the continent'. The exhibition had been congratulated on 'the lay-out of the rooms, the tone of the paper, the lighting arrangements, and the simple and tasteful way in which the exhibits were hung'.

This exhibition marked the official opening of Cumberland House as an art gallery, and in declaring the building open the Lord Mayor is reported in saying that 'it was the beginning of the civic recognition of art'. On the first day open to the public Cumberland House Art Gallery & Museum had up to 350 visitors #PM125

Portsmouth Museums Service has a significant collection of items relating to Charles Dickens. Whilst he was born in Port...
11/02/2020

Portsmouth Museums Service has a significant collection of items relating to Charles Dickens. Whilst he was born in Portsmouth in 1812, he never actually lived in the city as an author.

Some of the earliest items that came into the collection were connected to Dickens such as signed documents, a sculpture of his father and a large portrait of the author by local artist Henry Bryant, which is on permanent display at the Dickens Birthplace.

Following his death in 1870 some of Dickens' personal effects were donated to the Museums Service by his family. These items included letters, original illustrations, books and family photographs. Perhaps the most significant item from this donation was the chaise longue sofa on which he died on 9th June1870 at Gad's Hill in Kent.

Throughout the years people have continued to donate Dickens related items which have all contributed to the scale and uniqueness of the collection we have in Portsmouth.

The Beam Engine house itself is an impressive Victorian building finished in 1887 and designed by Sir Frederick Bramwell...
07/02/2020

The Beam Engine house itself is an impressive Victorian building finished in 1887 and designed by Sir Frederick Bramwell. The building houses a pair of classic Boulton Watt beam engines and pumps restored to their original 1887 condition.

The pump house contains the two Boulton and Watt beam engines that operated the pumps that kept Portsmouth's sewage system functioning. The space is dominated by the wooden casings for the pistons, the rods leading to the pumps and the flywheels that regulate the speed of the engines. The building has cast iron windows and much of the internal structure is also iron #PM125

Today we are exploring Eastney for our 125th year. The group of engine houses at Eastney form part of a Scheduled Ancien...
07/02/2020

Today we are exploring Eastney for our 125th year. The group of engine houses at Eastney form part of a Scheduled Ancient Monument and the buildings are all Grade II listed. The buildings included are the 1865 pump house and boiler house, the 1887 boiler house, pump house and chimney and the 1904 gas engine house.

The provision of proper sewage disposal was really important to the city. Built on a low-lying island with poor natural drainage, sewage and waste often polluted the water supply, resulting in many deaths from diseases such as cholera. A new drainage system was introduced by Portsmouth Corporation in 1868 using gravity to move sewage across Portsea Island to Eastney, from where it was pumped out to sea.

As the city's population increased, more pumping power was needed and the beam engines that can still be seen today were installed. The engines played an important part in improving the health and living standards of everyone in Portsmouth.

When they were retired from normal use, the beam engines were still kept in operating condition as a backup until 1954. Maintenance of the engines and pumps was discontinued after 1954. Following extensive restoration, the Beam Engine House was opened to the public as an industrial museum in 1972.

Eastney still houses Portsmouth's sewage processing facility on a site just behind the engine house, continuing the story of keeping the sewage moving!

The HER is constantly being updated as archaeological work takes place at development sites. After the work is completed...
06/02/2020

The HER is constantly being updated as archaeological work takes place at development sites. After the work is completed a report by the archaeology unit is sent to the HER Officer who records information about the investigation and the details of any archaeology that was found on the database.

As well as recording known archaeology the HER also conducts research using documentary sources held at the museum and Portsmouth History Centre to identify sites that may be of interest. This can include researching standing buildings or structures, or those known only from historic records such as maps and deeds. A few years ago the HER conducted a research project looking at the many farms that used to be in the city.

Previous archaeological work and finds that have not been recorded on the HER are also being identified using files, photographs and old journals held in the museum archaeology collection.

Why not take a look at the @PortsmouthHER to find out more about the work of the HER and the sites it records? #PM125

Portsmouth's Historic Environment Record has been part of Portsmouth Museums service for nearly 60 years #PM125Archaeolo...
06/02/2020

Portsmouth's Historic Environment Record has been part of Portsmouth Museums service for nearly 60 years #PM125

Archaeologists at Portsmouth Museum Service started recording details of archaeological sites, monuments and stray finds in the 1960s. This early Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) consisted of a card index and information files which cross referenced to Ordnance Survey maps. Recording continued in this way until the cards were computerised in 2004.

The original records have since been enhanced and many new records added, and it is now known as the Portsmouth Historic Environment Record (HER). This database is the primary source of information for archaeology and historic sites within the City of Portsmouth, including stray finds, archaeological investigations, Scheduled Monuments, historic buildings (Listed and non-listed) and parks and gardens.

The HER Officer regularly carries out searches of the database for archaeologists, planners, developers, academic researchers and members of the public. It is possible to search a specific geographical area, or for a particular type or date of find/monument/building e.g. Bronze Age burials or Medieval occupation.

As well as putting our collections on display, we make them available for researchers to view, whether they are doing fa...
05/02/2020

As well as putting our collections on display, we make them available for researchers to view, whether they are doing family history research, writing a book or play, or just out of interest (by appointment). Some researchers then give public talks about their findings.

Today we are celebrating the local and social history collections as part of #PM125. These form one of the largest group...
04/02/2020

Today we are celebrating the local and social history collections as part of #PM125. These form one of the largest groups of objects and images we have and covers an enormous range of subjects.

We focus on collecting material that has either been made in Portsmouth, used by people who live or have lived here or who have a significant connection with the city. As Portsmouth has such an amazing and varied history this means the collection looks at a wide range of people and subjects so we have tried to pick just a few things to represent them.

Pubs have been a huge part of Portsmouth life and the collection contains quite a bit of material relating to them including parts of pub fronts including the Black Dog and some of the interior of the Hearts of Oak. The city boasted several local breweries and the pubs often had their names in tiles like this example by Long & Co Ltd who were taken over by Brickwood & Co in 1933.

The collection also represents some of the industries that have operated in the city, these tools are from one of the many iron and brass foundries that Portsmouth had, often supplying the Dockyard.

Objects representing people are really important and it is these individual stories that add up to tell the story of Portsmouth. People like Margaret Haly who lived in Portsmouth for the latter part of her life and died here. This is a medal presented to her in 1912. She was a Suffragette who was force-fed in Holloway Prison while taking part in a protest hunger strike. On the lid of the presentation box there is the following text, 'Presented to Margaret Haly by the Women's Social and Political Union in recognition of a gallant [act]ion whereby through endurance and hardship, a great principle of political justice was vindicated.'

One of Portsmouth Museums' recent projects has been the creation of The D-Day Story. We spent four years planning, prepa...
01/02/2020

One of Portsmouth Museums' recent projects has been the creation of The D-Day Story. We spent four years planning, preparing and carrying out the project! If you haven't visited already, make sure you do soon!

Continuing our celebration of our buildings, Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum is next up!The Museum is a Grade I Listed...
31/01/2020

Continuing our celebration of our buildings, Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum is next up!

The Museum is a Grade I Listed Building. It is located in the Mile End Conservation Area which covers a surviving section of buildings from the old Commercial Road. The birthplace is part of a terrace of four houses, originally known as Mile End Terrace, built by a mercer and draper called William Pearce in the late 1700s or very early 1800s. Pearce lived in the larger house next door (391 Commercial Road).

John Dickens and his family lived at 1 Mile End Terrace from 1809 to 1812, and it was here that his son Charles John Huffham Dickens was born on the 7th February 1812. At this time the area would still have been quite rural.

The Portsmouth Corporation bought the birthplace at auction for £1,125 on the 29th September 1903. It was opened as a museum on the 22nd July 1904 #PM125

Address

393 Old Commercial Road
Portsmouth
PO14

Opening Hours

Friday 10:00 - 17:30
Saturday 10:00 - 17:30
Sunday 10:00 - 17:30

Telephone

02392 827261

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The Genesis Order of Druids first Annual Charles Dickens Wassail will take place on January 6th combining local history and nature of the area. Starting from the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum, join us for Mulled Cider and drumming as we honour the Apple and fruit trees. Starting from the Charles Dickens Birthplace at 2.45pm processing to the Cornwallis Crescent community Orchard where the tree blessing and a short talk about the Orchard and Charles Dickens will take place.
I am a Dickens fan and have learned of a new effort by a Louisiana author that is delightfully in the Dickens style. So descriptive! Wonderful, rich characters and places. I encourage any fan of Dickens to check out The Death (And Sometimes Life) of Barthalamew Buckett on Amazon. You won't be disappointed.