Great Expectations was first published in serialised form from 1860. Considered to be one of Charles Dickens’ finest novels, many of the scenes take place in Satis House, the home of Miss Havisham.
Satis House on Boley Hill bears no relation to the one which Miss Havisham lived in. The Satis House in Great Expectations was in fact based on Restoration House in Rochester.
The house was on the route of one of Dickens’ favourite walks. ‘He would turn out of Rochester High Street through the Vines,’ wrote John Forster, ‘where some old buildings, from one of which called Restoration House he took Satis House from ‘Great Expectations’, had a curious attraction for him.’
Quotes from Great Expectations:
So unchanged was the dull old house, the yellow light in the darkened room, the fading spectre in the chair by the dressing table glass, that I felt as if the stopping of the clocks had stopped Time in that mysterious place, and, while everything outside it grew older, it stood still.
When Pip arrived at Satis House, he found the building ‘was of old brick, dismal, and had a great many iron bars to it. Some of the windows had been bricked up, and those that remained, all the lower were rustily barred; so we had to wait, after ringing the bell, until some one came to open it.
On the 6 June 1870, just a few days before Charles Dickens’ death, he was seen in the Vines leaning on the wooden fence, looking closely at the outside of Restoration House. Perhaps he intended to use the building in Edwin Drood.