Published: 17:20, 09 June 2020
| Updated: 17:22, 09 June 2020
The 150th anniversary of the death of Charles Dickens has been marked with a ceremony at Gad’s Hill Place in Higham, where the author died on June 9, 1870.
Gravesham's mayor Cllr John Caller was joined by Gad's Hill School head boy Peter Brooks Van Zyl, headmaster Paul Savage, and Cllr Shane Mochrie-Cox, Gravesham council’s cabinet member for Communities and Leisure.
The mayor placed pots of Dickens’ favourite flowers at the steps of the house, which the author bought in March 1856 and in which he lived from June 1857 until his death.
In a short and low-key ceremony, Cllr Caller said: “We had so much more planned throughout June to mark the anniversary of the death of Charles Dickens, but, of course, our plans have had to be cancelled because of the restrictions in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“However, we couldn’t let today pass unmarked.
“I consider it a great privilege, on behalf of the people of Gravesham and those more distant, to be able to make a brief and somewhat modest visit on this day to Gad’s Hill Place, the home which he loved and spent so many happy years and his final days; and, to place pots of what I understand to be his favourite red pelargoniums at the steps of the house, creating a blaze of colour fittingly alluding to the vividness and energy of his life.
“I suspect Dickens would have greatly sympathised with us all in our current pandemic predicament and appreciated, given the times, being honoured in such an unostentatious and private manner.
“We are separated by circumstances - an awkward state recognised by Dickens in the words of farewell from blacksmith, Joe Gargery, to Pip in Great Expectations: ‘Life is made of ever so many partings welded together’.
“My hope is that soon we will be able to gather together again to commemorate Dickens’ life in a fuller way.”