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Medway's summer of Dickens

Over the coming months there’s lots going on in Medway to celebrate the area’s connections with Charles Dickens:

27 May – 5 June: The Trials of…Charles Dickens
Guildhall Museum, Rochester High Street
£12.50 for adults, £10 for children/concessions
Suitable for age 8+

The Dickens’ Theatre Company will be returning for another series of shows following the sell-out success of their ‘Christmas Carol’ performance last year.

‘The Trials of… Charles Dickens’, adapted by EastEnders star Ryan Philpott, will bring together the all-time classics such as Great Expectations, Oliver Twist and Pickwick Papers, to delight the audience with a mix of comedy and tragedy featuring Dickens’ most famous and dramatic trial scenes from his greatest works.

Director Eric Richard said: “It’s so exciting for us to be back in Rochester. As the die-hard Dickens fans will be aware, Pip’s swearing-in as apprentice blacksmith in Great Expectations, takes place in the main chamber at The Guildhall. And The Bull Hotel across the High Street features in The Pickwick Papers.

"After the success of ‘A Christmas Carol’ in this tiny, historic space, to focus on those famous trial scenes, seemed like the next perfect step.”

There will be 20 performances throughout May and June, taking place within the Guildhall’s original court chamber. For tickets call 01634 338141 or buy them in person at the Guildhall Museum or Rochester Visitors’ Information Centre. These are independently run shows and do not fall under the management of Rochester Dickens Festival.

Media are welcome to attend the opening night on 27 May at 5pm. To confirm a place contact the press office on 01634 332021.

30 May – 2 June: Explore Medway Open Top Bus
£3.75 for adults, £2.50 for children/concessions

Hop aboard the open top bus and find out fascinating facts about Medway, from Dickens’ connections with the area to the locations where major films and TV programmes have been set.

Tours start from the coach bays at the back of Medway Visitor Information Centre in Rochester - however, if getting to this starting point is a problem, you can join the bus at any of the stops along the way. Simply turn up at any of the pick-up points and buy your all day, hop on/off ticket from the driver. Sit back and enjoy the on-board commentary.

For more information visit the Enjoy Medway website.

3, 4 & 5 June: Rochester Dickens festival
Rochester High Street

The celebration of the Victorian wordsmith is back and as always Rochester High Street will transform into a vision of bonnets and top hats for the 38th year.

Around 60,000 people are expected to flock to the Dickens Festival and this year’s theme will be The Old Curiosity Shop.

Dickens spent much of his life in Medway and many of his novels and characters were inspired by his experiences of living here. The celebration will bring together Victorian and Dickensian themed street entertainment, readings, costumed characters and parades.

For more information visit the Enjoy Medway website.

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services Cllr Howard Doe said: “We’re really lucky to have such rich connections to Charles Dickens here in Medway and that really is something to celebrate. The Dickens Festival is the pinnacle of our Dickens’ Country calendar which I hope, as always, will be enjoyed by thousands of people.

“The Dickens’ Theatre Company performances at the Guildhall Museum are really going to be something special. Within an intimate venue of such historic significance, it really is a wonderful way to experience a range of Dickens’ greatest works. Those wanting tickets should snap them up as soon as possible, as the last set of similar performances sold-out quickly.”