Geoff Rambler's weird and wonderful Kent

Stories from my walks & tours in Kent. I lead walks / tours free of charge for community groups or for a donation for an agreed good cause.

Rochester – Dickens’s Monument?

Dickens booksA Sales Pitch!

I’m a tour guide for the City of Rochester, Kent, UK, as well as local historian who uses his knowledge to lead walks & tours to raise money for good causes – I carry all my own expenses and make no money for myself from the sale of my books.

During 2020 I was going to lead walks & tours to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of Charles Dickens, to raise funds for the conservation of his Swiss Chalet. As has become my practice I turned my ‘research’ into a book to be sold raise more money in the case to conserve his chalet.

Sadly CoVid 19 put pay to those plans for 2020 – but I can can still sell the books. The price is £15 that includes UK postage. As the cost of printing has been covered by donations all proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Chalet Conservation Fund set up by the City of Rochester Society – Registration No. 252603.

Continue reading if you would like to know more, and if you become interested in buying a copy or copies please email me:

The tour and book were inspired by a visitor from Australia who joined one of my tours. She expressed disappointment that Rochester did not have a statue or monument dedicated to Charles Dickens. In response I quipped that “perhaps Rochester is his monument?” 

The more I thought about it I realised this subliminal thought had some validity.

Using Dickens’ novels and stories, as well as newspapers from Dickens’ time, I set out to discover something of the people, places and events associated with Rochester that may have inspired or informed his writing. The book which I titled ‘Rochester – A Monument to Dickens?‘ is therefore less about his novels and more about what Rochester was like during Dickens’ lifetime, and a little about how celebrations of his life have become a part of the culture and economy of Rochester and nearby.

Along with many past and contemporary pictures you will be ‘introduced’ to:

Mrs SusannaCackett, the unnamed and slighted matron of the Seven Poor Travellers who sued Charles Dickens for the way he portrayed her. How could she afford to do that? Because the City got behind her! And William Miles – the inspiration for Mr Topes from The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Mr Tope William Miles (1)

William Miles – Head Verger, Rochester Cathedral

The Book – on offer

Below is the contents page and a sample page from the book. At the end I provide more information about the Chalet which is now in a very poor state of repair and by the day is being ‘digested’ by Nature


Sample Page

The Swiss Chalet


The chalet was a gift to Charles Dickens from his friend, Charles Fechter, in 1864. It arrived in some 58 cases / 94 pieces that had to be assembled – challenging as the instructions were in French. After some difficulties the chalet was assembled in the Shrubbery opposite Dickens’ home at Gads Hill. He was writing in it until the day before he died. It now sits in the grounds of Eastgate House, Rochester – no longer open to visitors as it is in a parlous state; a state that has arisen through neglect but also because it was built of softwood and was never expected to survive for more than 150 years.

Chalet in its better days
Chalet – in better days c 1929 – when in the grounds of Cobham Hall – the home of Lord Darnley


If you would like to know more or maybe (hopefully) be interested in buying a book, please email me –

Geoff Ettridge aka Geoff Rambler



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