Chatham is a town on the River Medway, in the north of the county of Kent, in South East England. The town was particularly noted for it’s dockyard, which at one point covered 400 acres (1.6 km²) and was one of the Royal Navy’s main facilities for several hundred years. Chatham Dockyard fully closed in 1984, although part of it has been preserved as a museum. The Victorian author Charles Dickens lived in the town as a boy and used the area as a setting in some of works.


Charles Dickens and Chatham.

Chatham. Illustration dating from around 1830.

Chatham. Illustration dating from around 1830 showing the River Medway and Royal Dockyard.

In 1817 John Dickens, who worked as a clerk for the Royal Navy, was posted to the Royal Dockyard in Chatham.  The whole family moved to the town, living at two addresses between 1817 and 1822 before John was posted back to London.

In Chatham, the Dickens household were based first in Ordnance Terrace and later at St Mary’s Place, The Brook. Charles would also begin his formal education here, at a school run by William Giles.

Charles Dickens would later describe living Chatham as a happy period of his childhood and one which held fond memories.  Later on in life he  returned to the area when he bought a house in nearby Gad’s Hill.

The Medway area around Chatham and neighbouring Rochester would also feature in a number of Charles Dickens novels.






Further Reading (external sites).

Click here to view the Wikipedia entry for Chatham.