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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 March 2007, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Tourism revamp for Dickens school
Gad's Hill School
A new 7m school would be built in the grounds of the existing one
The house in Kent where Charles Dickens lived and died could be turned into a heritage centre and opened to visitors.

Gad's Hill Place, in Higham, has been a school since the 1920s, but plans have been submitted to build a new one in the grounds and open up the house.

The author lived in the house for 15 years until 1870, and his study, where he wrote his last three novels, is used by the head teacher as his office.

If planning permission is granted, the work could be completed by 2012.

The new 7m school would be built next door to the heritage centre.

The 370 children who are here are slowly but surely destroying the fabric of the same building
David Craggs, head teacher

Currently, the independent day school teaches 370 pupils, who have got used to being taught in such rooms as Dickens' spare bedroom.

But head teacher David Craggs said people could only visit the building during the school holidays, when it really should be open seven days a week.

"The 370 children who are here are slowly but surely destroying the fabric of the same building, not deliberately, but just through wear and tear.

"The sooner we get them into purpose built school accommodation, the better," he said.

While living at Gad's Hill, Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations.

He was working on his final novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, when he died.

A Dickens World theme park opens in Chatham next month, complete with a ride which will take visitors on a journey through Dickensian England.



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