Charles Dickens – his life and works
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Meadows & hills
On this short literary exploration of Charles Dickens we’ll focus on two of his works and relevant locations; Nicholas Nickleby and Portsmouth where we’ll learn about the murder in chapter 22 and we’ll read the opening chapter of Great Expectations at Cooling church.
- Visit Charles Dickens' Birthplace Museum in Portsmouth
- Explore Rochester, inspiration for many of Dickens' works and characters
- Soak up the atmosphere of St James church, Cooling, where Pip meets Magwitch, the convict in Great Expectations
Great reasons to join us:
- Great value: all prices include Full Board en-suite accommodation, plus three full day tours, with entrances to all relevant sites included
- Knowledgeable leader: learn more about the life and works of Dickens from your knowledgeable leader
- Accommodation: enjoy high-quality accommodation and excellent food at Abingworth Hall
- Sociability: we pride ourselves on the sociable atmosphere of our holidays – explore together, eat together and relax together
Nestled at the foot of the South Downs, Abingworth Hall is ideally located for a short break or a longer holiday. A peaceful ambiance and excellent facilities make it a relaxing place to stay.
Our classic bedrooms offer comfortable accommodation and an en-suite bathroom with bath or shower. They also have TV, hairdryer, and tea and coffee making facilities. Single rooms are available at no extra charge.
You can enjoy extra space or exceptional views plus additional facilities including a towelling robe and complimentary slippers when you upgrade to a premium bedroom. Premium rooms are available at just £10 extra per person per night.
If you are travelling with your family, we have a selection of 3 and 4-bedded family bedrooms. These have all the facilities of our classic rooms plus full sized twin or double beds for adults and bunk beds or occasional beds for children.
All our Country Houses are tailored to the needs of walkers and outdoor enthusiasts and have excellent boot and drying rooms.
Abingworth Hall has three comfortable lounges, the largest of which opens onto the attractive conservatory and bar. The large ballroom can be used for dancing, evening talks or as a games room with table tennis. There is also a pleasant dining room. Free Wifi is available in some public rooms. There is also a range of board games and books.
Abingworth Hall is surrounded by eight acres of gardens. Outside there is a putting green and croquet lawn. The heated outdoor swimming pool is popular with our guests in the summer (May – September).
All holidays at our Country Houses are Full Board with all meals included, from dinner on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure.
Start your day with our extensive breakfast. Choose from a wide selection on the cold buffet and/or a full cooked breakfast. Maybe enjoy a lighter option of fruit and yoghurt followed by scrambled egg, go for porridge followed by a full English breakfast, or select something in between.
Choose from our famous self-select picnic lunches - everything you need to keep you going on a day outdoors. Your own choice of sandwiches is prepared to order, and you can add crisps and snacks, fruit, nuts, chocolate bars, sweets and biscuits as you wish.
Our house-based Leisure Activities include an in-house lunch (generally soup, sandwiches etc).
The relaxed dinner is a highlight of any stay at our Country Houses. With tables seating up to 10 and no seating plan, it offers a great opportunity to get to know your fellow guests. There is always a choice of dishes for every course, featuring good British cooking and often local specialities. A vegetarian option is always available.
All our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.
Guided Walking: enjoy a glass of wine or local beer in the bar before a talk about the next day's walks. After dinner there will be an activity or entertainment which you will be welcome to join. These vary from week to week but could include a talk on wildlife from a local speaker or a team quiz. Alternatively if you prefer, feel free to just relax in our lounge or bar.
Leisure Activities: many of our Leisure Activities holidays continue into the evening with programmed sessions. Other holidays will have the evenings free, and you will be welcome to join in other social activities that may be happening in the house.
Self-Guided Walking: there may be evening social activities happening in the house during your holiday, and you will be most welcome to join in. However, not all self-guided holidays will have evening activities available – if these are important to you, please check before booking.
Abingworth Hall is generally accessible to wheelchair users and has a bedroom specifically designed for wheelchair access.
Arrival & car parking facilities
- There is ample (gravel) car parking available at the rear of the House
- Disabled parking is available closer to the front door
- The driveway from the main B2139 is tarmac up to the front door
- It is possible to load and unload cars directly at the front door
- Assistance can be provided with luggage
Main entrance & reception
- There is a small step (6cm high) into the porch at the front door of the house
- The front door can open double to 151cm wide
- The step into the main reception hallway is 12cm high with double doors opening up to 162cm wide
- A hatch immediately inside the front doorway opens to reveal a check-in desk
- The reception hallway gives access to the drawing room, large lounge with conservatory, dining room, reception / office, powder room and gents
- A well-lit corridor leads off to the ballroom and bedrooms 1 - 8
- There is no lift. The main stairway (112cm wide) leads up to rooms 9 – 25
Public areas - hall, stairs, landing, corridors etc
- All public areas are carpeted
- The corridor leading to rooms 1 - 8. Minimum width is 99cm
- The main stairway leading up to rooms 9 - 25 is 112cm wide
Public areas - sitting room, lounges, lobbies etc
- Door is 86cm wide
- A carpeted, wood panelled lounge with relaxed seating for 12
- Door is 86cm wide. Impressive lounge with a baby grand piano and a large mirror. Carpeted with comfortable seating for 26. Leads into the conservatory
Conservatory & bar
- Carpeted with relaxed rattan furniture. Bar in the corner (bar height 117cm)
- Accessed though the large lounge, doorway is 117cm wide and a step down 17cm high or alternatively accessed from the reception hallway, down the corridor which is ramped. The door from the corridor is 79cm wide
- Entrance through double doors (total width 150cm)
- A large room, 7m by 11m with windows on two walls. Carpeted around a wooden dance floor, which measures 5m by 9m
- Chairs are movable, armless and stackable
- Ground level from the reception hallway, carpeted, door 79cm wide
- Two cubicles, doors 59cm wide, with standard toilets of 42cm high
- One basin with hot and cold taps
- A vanity unit with good lighting and a large mirror with two upright padded chairs
- Tiled floor (door width 81cm)
- One cubicle with standard toilet of 44cm high
- Four self-flushing urinals, 67cm high
- One basin with hot and cold taps
- Good lighting and mirrors
- From the reception hallway, three steps up into the main stairway (154cm wide with handrail) is the entrance to the dining room. Further two steps up (120cm wide with hand rail)
- The dining room is L-shaped, carpeted throughout
- Tables are rectangular, six legged and 72cm high, each seating five to eight diners
- Seats are without arms, 48cm high, padded seats with 40cm wooden backs
- A portable stainless steel mobility ramp is available
Bedrooms & sleeping areas
- Bedrooms 1 - 8 are on ground floor, down a well lit corridor from the reception hall
- Bedrooms 9 - 14 are up a main L-shaped stairway, 16 steps to the first floor landing
- Bedrooms 15 and 16 are through a door and further 7 steps up from the first floor landing
- Bedrooms 17 - 23 are through another door from the first floor landing, up a second flight of stairs, 16 steps up through a landing door onto the second floor
- Bedroom 24 is situated above room 16, up a curved narrow stairway of 15 steps
- Bedroom doors are 72cm - 87cm wide
- Beds are 55cm high. Rooms are single, twin or double bedded
- Usually made up with hollow fibre duvets and pillows, blankets and feather pillows available on request
- All rooms are carpeted and well lit
- All furniture, including beds are movable
- Most rooms have baths, although some have only a walk-in shower
- Rooms with baths have mostly mixer taps with a shower attachment
- Most rooms have vinyl or tiled floor, rooms 9 / 10 / 11 and 24 have carpet
- Room 6 has been specially adapted for wheelchair users
- A low level shower tray, 62cm by 105cm, with the step-in of 7cm
- An adjustable free standing mobility shower seat is available
- The shower is thermostatically controlled to give even water pressure with an adjustable shower head
- The toilet is 47cm high with left side static hand rail and adjustable right side rail
- The basin has level mixer taps and is wall-mounted for wheelchair access
- Tiled floor
Grounds and gardens
- There are around eight acres of grounds. Most of the pathways are gravel and therefore uneven
- Grass meadows and lawns are also uneven. Steep, uneven steps lead to the meadows
- There is a stone terrace along the front of the house. The surface is uneven. The terrace is accessible either via the front door or through the conservatory doors with 2 / 3 steps down to the terrace. The conservatory door width is 113cm
- The outdoor swimming pool is situated between the main house and the car park
- The pool is heated May - September
- Due to the secluded location of the pool, guests are advised not to swim alone. Pool emergency alarm at the side of the pool, attached to changing room
- Fire procedure is displayed in each room and explained to guests on arrival. Guests requiring assistance at an evacuation are identified at this time and door hanger cards are issued
- Mobile phone reception is generally good from the main building
- Assistance dogs accompanying visually or hearing impaired guests are welcome; dogs must be kept on a lead or harness at all times
- Information can be provided in large print
- Staff have received disability awareness training
- Special diets can be catered for. Specialist food can be obtained with prior notice
- Fridge for medication can be supplied
During your holiday we’ll read extracts from Dickens’ works, talk about our favourite Dickensian characters and moments and share our interest – whether well-established or just beginning – in England’s favourite author. Each day there’s a book of readings to enjoy, and we’ll be walking through towns and countryside to explore the connections with Dickens.
Monday: Arrival day
You can check in to your room from 2.30pm onwards. Please join us for afternoon tea at 4pm. All guests are invited – we’ll introduce your leader and welcome you to your holiday.
Tuesday: Nicholas Nickleby & Smike
We travel to Portsmouth, stopping at the Devil’s Punch Bowl where Nicholas Nickleby and Smike stopped on their journey from London. Then we’ll visit the house where Dickens was born and the historic dockyards where his father worked. One of Portsmouth’s modern day attractions is the High Street in Old Portsmouth where Crummles’ theatre once stood, and the last resting place of two people he loved.
Wednesday: Dickens’ London
Today we’ll cover approximately 3 miles on foot in Dickens’ London. After an early start, we’ll visit Dickens’ first family home in Doughty Street, then explore the Marshalsea and its surroundings south of the river. We’ll discover the Inns of Court made famous by Bleak House. On the way we’ll walk in the footsteps of Amy Dorrit, Sam Weller, Nancy Sikes, Mr Tulkinghorn and Miss Flite. Comfortable shoes and stamina are a must for this day!
Thursday: Great Expectations & The Pickwick Papers
We’ll drive to Cooling Church for a familiar reading from the opening chapter of Great Expectations. Then we’ll take the short journey to Rochester (Edwin Drood’s Cloisterham) to explore the city’s many connections with the author. Our route home will include a roadside view of Gads Hill, the church where Dickens’ daughter Katey was married, and a stop at The Leather Bottle, Cobham - much frequented by Dickens and made famous in The Pickwick Papers.
Friday: Depart after a leisurely breakfast
Sometimes things happen beyond our control – the weather, traffic jams or changes at the places we visit. If we need to adjust your holiday programme, for whatever reason, your leader will help smooth the way.
Discover Sussex and the South Downs
Abingworth Hall is situated amidst gentle rolling farmland at the foot of the South Downs.
The nearest facilities are in the village of Storrington, about two miles away. Here you’ll find a small supermarket, post office, newsagent, pubs and a bank.
During your stay at Abingworth Hall you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest:
The quaint town of Arundel, about 30 minutes' drive away, is dominated by its castle, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Norfolk. During your visit you may enjoy a walk in the Castle's extensive grounds, or beside the river Arun. www.arundelcastle.org
Completely restored after an extensive fire, this stately National Trust property has ornate rooms and gardens. Uppark is around 50 minutes' drive from Abingworth. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/uppark
The cosmopolitan seaside city of Brighton is about 40 minutes' drive from Abingworth Hall and has an excellent range of specialist shops, entertainment, and its famous beach. You may also enjoy a visit to the Royal Pavilion, built in the early 19th century by George IV. www.brighton-hove-rpml.org.uk
Amberley Working Museum
Just 15 minutes' drive from Abingworth Hall, this large open-air museum tells the industrial story of the downs, complete with a steam railway, vintage buses and restored quarry machinery. www.amberleymuseum.co.uk
Just 10 to 15 minutes' drive away, Elizabethan Parham House is surrounded by an extensive deer park. www.parhaminsussex.co.uk
The historic cathedral city of Chichester, about 45 minutes' drive away, has plenty of interest. Just a couple of miles away is the fascinating Fishbourne Roman Palace, uncovered in 1960, which has many superb mosaics. www.chichestercathedral.org.uk or www.sussexpast.co.uk/fishbourne
A large late 17th century mansion, now run by the National Trust with extensive grounds that were landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown. Around 30 minutes' drive from Abingworth. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/petworth-house
Weald & Downland Museum
Located on the Downs, near the village of Singleton, this excellent open-air museum contains many restored buildings that bring the history of Sussex to life. These include a working watermill and a re-creation of a typical downland village. The museum is around 45 minutes' drive from Abingworth. www.wealddown.co.uk
One of Britain’s premier steam railways with an impressive collection of 50 locomotives, representing the Southern Railway and its predecessors. The line runs through rolling countryside from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead, about 40 minutes' drive from Abingworth. www.bluebell-railway.co.uk
Uppark House and Petworth House image ©National Trust Images/John Miller
Travel to Abingworth
Our address is: Abingworth Hall, Storrington Road, Thakeham, West Sussex, RH20 3EF
The nearest railway station is at Pulborough. For train times and general rail enquiries visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or call 03457 484950 (from outside the UK call +44 20 7278 5240).
The 6 mile journey from Pulborough railway station takes approximately 15 minutes. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £14. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Abingworth Hall Manager.
From the north leave the M25 on either the A24 or the M23 and A264 to Horsham. Continue south on the A24 towards Worthing. About 5 miles south of Horsham turn right onto the A272 signposted to Billingshurst and Petersfield. After 3 miles turn onto the B2139 in the village of Coolham. After 3½ miles pass the turning for Thakeham on your left. Abingworth Hall is on the left after the Thakeham turn.
From the south take the M27 and continue on to the A27 and around Chichester. 4 miles before Arundel at Fontwell Park turn left on to the A29. After approx 4 miles at a roundabout, turn onto the A283 to Storrington. Turn right onto the A283 in Storrington. Continue through Storrington and left at the mini-roundabout at the Anchor Inn onto the B2139 towards Thakeham and Coolham. Go straight across at the next roundabout and then take a left at the Rydon Community College roundabout. Abingworth Hall is on the right, 2 miles north of Storrington.
Travelling from overseas
Abingworth is particularly convenient from London Gatwick Airport, which is served by a large range of long-haul and European flights.
From Gatwick Airport station there are trains every 30 minutes to Pulborough - journey time 40 minutes. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for train times. From Pulborough station complete your journey to Abingworth by taxi (see above)
London Heathrow airport is a little further away, so you'll need to travel via the centre of London. Allow 2½ hours to get to Pulborough.
Alban has been a teacher and student of literature for over 40 years. He has shared his enthusiasm for novels, plays and poetry with people of all ages, from pupils in secondary school to graduate and post-graduate trainee teachers in a university Faculty of Education.
Alban has a lively interest in literature of all kinds and, after many years of leading theatre visits and educational work with the Royal Shakespeare Company, completed his MA in Shakespeare and Theatre at the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford on Avon and has directed and taught Shakespeare in a rural senior secondary school in South Africa.
He describes Shakespeare as one of the three pillars of his life (the other two being his football team and family!).
He has chosen to lead with HF Holidays after wide experience as a guest on walking holidays both in the UK and abroad – and has no hesitation in recommending the HF Holiday experience to others.
Dates & Prices
|Date||Description||Nights||Brochure price||Buy today for||Book|
|4 Sep 2017||AWALD - Charles Dickens - Life and Works - Abingworth||4||£655.00||£615.00||Book Now|
Prices are per person
- Premium single room: £15 per night
- Premium twin/double room: £10 per person per night
- Non-member associate fee: £10 per person