Two photographs of Eastgate House — The Nun's House in The Mystery of Edwin Drood — by Jacqueline Banerjee.

Eastgate House appears as the "Westgate House Establishment for Young Ladies" in The Pickwick Papers (Chapter 16) and as the Nuns' House in Edwin Drood, where Rosa is at school, and Edwin visits her:

In the midst of Cloisterham stands the Nuns' House: avenerable brick edifice, whose present appellation is doubtlessderived from the legend of its conventual uses. On the trimgate enclosing its old courtyard is a resplendent brass plateflashing forth the legend: 'Seminary for Young Ladies. Miss Twinkleton. The house-front is soold and worn, and the brass plate is so shining and staring, thatthe general result has reminded imaginative strangers of abattered old beau with a large modern eye-glass stuck in hisblind eye." [Chapter 3]

Sir Peter Buck, Clerk of the Cheque at Chatham Dockyard, built Eastgate House, a half-timbered Elizabethan building that dates from the late sixteenth century. It received its name because it faces the east gate of the Cathedral. Formerly the Charles Dickens Centre, it now serves as an exhibition space and cultural venue.

In Dickens's first novel, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, the Elizabethan building dating from 1590-91 serves as a boarding school named Westgate House, although the young author moved it to Bury St. Edmunds. In his last (incomplete) novel The Mystery of Edwin Drood it appears again Miss Twinkleton's seminary for young ladies. On account of its having such strong Dickensian associations, in 1897 the Rochester City Council purchased the building, making it a museum of local Dickensiana. It that capacity it closed in 2004, but continues as an exhibition centre. In its gardens to the rear stands the Swiss Chalet (originally across the road from Gads Hill Place) in which Dickens wrote much of Great Expectations and The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Across the High Street from Eastgate House stands a group of three gabled Elizabethan houses, onbe of which is reputed to have served as the model for Uncle Pumblechook's store in Great Expectations.

Above: An early twentieth-century colourized postcard, Rochester: Eastgate House (property of Margaret MacKenzie of the Victoria Branch of the Dickens Fellowship. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Above: Historical plaque, Rochester: Eastgate House [Click on image to enlarge it.]


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Last modified 16 September 2017