Author Charles Dickens sat in the church's pews
The former home of author Charles Dickens is a step closer to being permanently opened to the public for the first time since his death in 1870.
Current owners, Gad’s Hill Independent School, has finished the first phase of its multi-million-pound new school in the grounds of the old house, allowing Gad’s Hill Place to be opened up.
The Grade I listed Georgian property in Higham, where Dickens penned classic novels such as Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, has been used by the school for teaching since the 1920s.
The new school buildings will be officially opened at 10.30am next Wednesday by Marion Dickens, Dickens’ great-great-granddaughter and trustee of the charity due to take over Gad’s Hill Place.
Headmaster David Craggs said: “Thousands of children have had the rare honour of being able to learn English in what was Charles Dickens’ bedroom.
"However, this old building can no longer keep up with the demands of modern-day education.
“While I will miss the unique privilege of running a school from the great man’s own study, I feel that we have built a new school of the highest quality and standard that the 21st century can provide, which is only right for our truly outstanding students.”
Work will now begin on refurbishing Gad’s Hill Place, ultimately leading to a visitor attraction around the Georgian building.