Thousands attend annual Rochester Dickens festival

Image caption,
The Dickens Festival has been held in Rochester since 1978

Up to 60,000 people, many dressed in Victorian costume, descended on Rochester in Kent to take part in the annual Dickens Festival.

The three-day event has been held in the town, which has strong connections with Charles Dickens, since 1978.

Actors recreated scenes from some of Dickens' most famous novels.

Visitors to the festival were also being treated to a demonstration of Dickensian cooking and a stilt-walking Miss Havisham.

The event culminated with a parade through the town to Rochester Castle.

'National legend'

Although Dickens was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, he lived for many years in Kent.

Before the festival, Medway councillor Howard Doe said: "Charles Dickens is a national legend and his connections with Medway are well documented. Every year we strive to make the Dickens Festival an enjoyable experience and 2010 is no different.

"We hope that everyone gets involved this year by dressing in Victorian costume and taking part in the parades and competitions".

Charles Dickens lived in Medway from 1817 to 1822 and returned to the area for the last 13 years of his life, dying at Gads Hill in 1870.

Image caption,
The chalet where Dickens wrote Great Expectations and other famous works

Restoration House in Rochester was the setting for Satis House in Great Expectations, where Miss Havisham lived.

The novel also uses a bleak churchyard on the Hoo Peninsula as inspiration for the scene where the young Pip meets escaped convict Magwitch in the opening chapter.

In May a £100,000 appeal was launched to save a wooden chalet in Rochester where Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations and other works, which has fallen into disrepair.

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