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. It offers great viewing for short or long strolls in the beautiful surrounding meadows.
Choose your room
• Check-in from 2:30pm
• Comfortable accommodation
• En-suite bathroom with bath or shower
• Tea and coffee-making facilities
• Single rooms available at no extra charge
• Check-in from 1:30pm
• Enjoy extra space or exceptional views
• Toweling robe, complimentary slippers
• Same facilities as our classic rooms
• Available from an extra £10 per person per night
• Check-in from 2:30pm
• 3 or 4 beds
• Same facilities as our classic rooms
• Full sized twin or double beds for adults and bunk or occasional beds for children
|• Excellent boot and drying rooms
• Three comfortable lounges, the largest of which opens onto the attractive conservatory and bar
• Large ballroom
• Dining room
• Free WiFi avaliable in some public rooms
|• Range of board games and books
• Surrounded by eight acres of gardens
• Putting green and croquet lawn
• Heated outdoor swimming pool (open May to September)
|All holidays at our Country Houses are full board accommodation including evening meal on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.
√ Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.
Abingworth Hall is generally accessible to wheelchair users and has a bedroom specifically designed for wheelchair access.
- 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
We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.
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