A Twist on Oliver: A Dickensian-Themed Family Vacation in Broadstairs, Kent | Kent holidays

AOf all the TV specials and theatrical productions this time of year, one story is always guaranteed to be told – A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens. Fans might be excited to discover a new vacation cottage near the waterfront in Broadstairs, Kent, which recreates a setting in another favorite Dickensian novel – Oliver Twist.

“We all felt excited by the theatricality of it all, with Victorian style furniture, clocks, candles and a rocking chair.”

Fagin’s lair – which its owners claim to be the UK’s first Dickensian-themed escape – was designed as a hideout for Victorian thieves, like that of the sneaky pick-pocketing character from the book.

Big expectations? Mine were more on the middle side. I wasn’t totally convinced that a dubious literary character’s hovel was the kind of place I wanted to spend a weekend. But we were there for the kids, who aren’t huge Dickensian fans, but true pretend fans.

The author's son, Hamish, in Fagin's Den
The author’s son, Hamish, in Fagin’s Den Photography: Gemma Bowes

Located in a narrow alley a few steps from the sea, the semi-detached cottage with the flint walls certainly looked like the room. And as our eyes got used to the dark interior, we felt excited about the theatricality of it all, with Victorian-style furnishings, clocks, candles, and a rocking chair. A string of pocket handkerchiefs was strung like a garland above the stairs; framed portraits of Dickensian figures and shelves from his novels adorned the walls. Upstairs, costumes for the characters of Oliver Twist hung in the bedrooms, if we want to indulge in a role play of Nancy and Bill or dress up as Artful Dodger. The bathroom walls were lined with prints of the illustrations that accompanied the original episodes of Oliver Twist, published monthly between 1837 and 1839.

Broadstairs, Viking Bay.
Viking Bay, Broadstairs. Photograph: Malcolm Fairman / Alamy

The overall effect was perhaps more of a dramatic scene for Olivier ! than an authentic Victorian house, but it’s fun for families and Dickensian fans, who will also appreciate the location of the cottage. A two-minute walk away is Bleak House, formerly Fort House, but renamed in honor of the author, who stayed there frequently when city ​​vacation between 1837 and 1859. He wrote David Copperfield in this striking perch above the harbor. (For those who come in the warmer months, there is also a choice of beaches – the town’s own sandy loop at Viking Bay one way, and the golden sands of East Cliff and Stone Bay, kilometer in length.)

The Dickens Connection was wholeheartedly embraced by Broadstairs: walking through the town we pass through Artfuls Bed and Breakfasts, the Charles Dickens Pub and Please sir!, a sordid fast food restaurant. There are also the most graceful Dickens House Museum – former home of the woman who inspired the character of Betsey Trotwood – and the Dickensian Party, which has taken place annually in June since the 1930s.

Things have changed a lot since Dickensian days, when the main street was ‘clogged with donkey chairs’, there were ‘top notch bathing machines’ on the beach, and fishing boats and sailors. galore, according to the descriptions of his essay of devotion to the seaside resort, Our English water point.

They have also changed quite a bit since my last visit, with some cool new spots such as Table, serving dishes such as Kentish clams with dashi against a monochrome background of subway tiles and exposed brick; new bistro Broadstairs Pier on the main beach of Viking Bay and a chic fish and chips spot Flotsam and Jetsam, which next to the standards offers sweets such as Crispy crab balls and monkfish langoustines in a black squid ink paste.

Flotsam and Jetsam Broadstairs
Flotsam and Jetsam.

It’s not like all we got was porridge, but the enthusiasm with which we devoured these creamy bites was matched only by the seagulls, who pelted and pecked us as we wandered about. sand with our paper cones. Repelled by these airborne thieves, we retreated to our own thieves’ lair to finish the meal, then completed the Fagin’s Den scavenger hunt left for the guests. By following clues around the house, finding answers in pictures and recipe books, the children finally unearthed “Fagin’s hiding place” – a treasure chest containing bubble wands, crayons and chocolate coins. . And then of course they asked for more, which I guess was totally appropriate.
Accommodation was provided by Broadstairs Fisherman’s Cabin. Fagin’s Den can accommodate four people £ 90 per night, minimum two nights

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Wizards' Chambers at the Georgian House Hotel
Wizards’ Rooms at the Georgian House Hotel

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