12 April 2019
After a slightly delayed start, due to the Orwell Bridge closure earlier, we set off with our excellent coach driver, Jeremy, making good time, to meet our guide, Liz, at Gravesend.
Liz directed us to Higham where we had lunch at The Falstaff Inn which was opposite Gad’s Hill, the house where Charles Dickens lived from 1857 to 1870 when he died. His father had shown him this house when he was a child and told him that if he were to work hard he might come to live in it one day.
After lunch we began our coach tour of the Hoo Peninsular which separates the estuaries of the Rivers Medway and Thames. We travelled through the Kent Marshes and fruit growing areas and had spectacular views of the two rivers.
We stopped at the lovely 13th century St James’ Church in the village of Cooling which is constructed of ragstone, flint and chalk. The churchyard provided Dickens with the inspiration for the opening chapter of Great Expectations. Our guide read us a paragraph from this and it was very atmospheric as we stood in the cold wind imagining Pip at his family’s grave and being surprised by Magwitch!
We then continued our journey to Rochester which has grown from a small Saxon village to an interesting and historic city. We had a walking tour in the footsteps of Dickens, through the lovely Victorian High Street. We saw buildings featured in his books including the grand Restoration House, (Miss Havisham’s home).We finished the tour at the beautiful Cathedral, the second oldest in England dating to AD604. Here we had free time to enjoy its splendour and explore the city.
Several members stopped for tea and cake in a café in the High Street where a few of our party were locked in the loo! Happily they were quickly released and made it back to the coach in good time. All in all, a very enjoyable and interesting ‘Mosaic’. Our thanks to June Peck for organising such a lovely day for us.