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Work on Dickens' former home starts today

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The former home of
Charles Dickens to be transformed into heritage centre

Work on a £10 million school being built in the grounds of
Charles Dickens’ former home starts today.

Gad’s Hill School has been using Gad’s Hill Place, the author's
old house, since the 1920s.

But the Higham school has seen more pupils coming through the
doors and has announced plans for a £10 million school in the
grounds of the old house.

Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens

It will allow the Grade I listed house
where Dickens penned Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities,
to be turned into a museum and world heritage centre, attracting
international visitors.

Head teacher David Craggs has long campaigned for pupils to
vacate the 18th century house and for the house to be opened to
visitors on a permanent basis.

He said: “While it is a real, and extremely rare, honour to be
able to learn English in what was Charles Dickens’ bedroom, it is
no longer practical for our growing number of pupils to use this

“I will miss the unique privilege of running a school from the
great man’s own study, but eagerly await the completion of the new
school buildings as they will provide a corner stone for future
success and will be better suited to educating children in the 21st

The heritage centre is due to open in 2012 to coincide with the
200th anniversary of Dickens’ birth.

Marion Dickens, trustee of the centre and Dickens’
great-great-granddaughter, said: “Since the house was turned into a
school, public access to it has been very limited.

"Now, for the first time, people who love the books will be able
to visit his home.”

The new school is being designed by Clague Architects and a
ground breaking ceremony to mark building work starting, is due to
be held at the school, in Gravesend Road later today -
the 141st anniversary of Dickens’ death.

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