The Rochester Dickensian Christmas celebrations took place on the weekend of December 2nd and 3rd 2017. The weather on the first day was sunny, and milder then the preceding few days. This led to what felt like a record turnout, which at times was quite uncomfortably crowded. Sunday was overcast but milder still, with large but more comfortable numbers of visitors.
One feature of Rochester High Street that has attracted comments from Dickens supporters around the world is the absence of the eighteenth century High Street clock. After a major refurbishment it made a hurried return to its proper place on the day before the festival. It was still surrounded by scaffolding, but it was telling the right time and should soon be visible in all its splendour.
The candle-lit parade and carol service outside the Cathedral was as always the high spot of the day; this year Canon The Rev'd Rachel Phillips led the proceedings with and endless supply of corny Christmas jokes. We ended with two verses of 'Jingle Bells'. The second verse ends up with the sledge running into a ditch and the occupants getting 'upsot', which can be read as either 'upset' or 'drunk' as the listener prefers! (more on Wikipedia)!
Angela Clark has published a huge album of excellent pictures on Facebook.
We have been sent an album of 81 pictures by Ian. You can download the images - you will be asked to register your email address, but nothing bad seems to follow! Ian has told us that some of his pictures were lost from the server, so he suggests that you might like to revisit his site.
You can see a video of the candle-lit parade on our new Facebook group page - anyone can see the page and if you join the group you can post your news and pictures there as well.
Scroll down the page or click here to see our 2018 festival news.
This year the Dickens Festival Mistletoe Ball took place in the magnificent Corn Exchange in the High Street on Saturday December 2nd.
The evening kicked off with a tremendous Christmas themed three course meal, followed by dancing with Tony Ellingham and his band 'Unit Five' in a wide range of styles.
if you were at the Ball you will be aware that we held a raffle in aid of the Dickens Swiss Chalet Restoration Fund. Sue had a donation of a collectible Steiff Bear, but we thought it was too specialised to have as a raffle prize, and it is now being auctioned. A local antique shop valued it at much more than the starting price.
STEIFF BEAR SUPPORTS RESTORATION FUND FOR DICKENSí CHALET
Hi, I am a genuine mohair 33cm tall Steiff Bear with a growler. I have been donated to help raise funds for the Dickensí Swiss Chalet Restoration Fund. I am looking for a good home, but I am expensive.
If you would like me in your family, you can bid for me (min £50). The highest bidder OVER £50 will win me for Christmas.
Send your bid to email@example.com before 20th December 2017.
If there is a tie, my carer will email you inviting you to increase your offer. The highest one wins!
We understand that the 2018 Rochester Dickens Festival will be a two day event on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd June 2018 (local half term week) and the Dickensian Christmas will be Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd December 2018.
We have been contacted by the Dickens Theatre Company who are touring with their production of Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' in December. They are at Gads Hill School on the 14th-16th December, with a matinee on the afternoon of the 16th. Booking information is on their website.
Can we help the City of Rochester Society? Yes we can! On August 13th we asked if anybody had a copy of the programme for the first Dickens Festival in 1979 for a history of the City of Rochester Society Rob Flood is writing. Within eight hours Mark Dennis had seen the request on our Facebook page, unearthed his copy and scanned it for us! Such is the power of the social network.
We are also trying to set up a picture archive for the festivals for this website. If you have anything from the early years please contact us.
The Dickens Festival 9-11 June 2017 has moved to our news archive page
We have heard of what really is a fantastic offer for the right person! It is genuine.
'A fantastic opportunity for Dickensian Couples, (20 needed over 18) dressed in Ball gowns must be authentically dressed, no Bridesmaid dresses please, and dancing to a waltz to take part in 2 Parades ( lasting 2 hours over 2 evenings, so will need to be fit, this is a stop perform walk, stop perform walk parade) in Foshan a city in China that has sister city status with Medway, they are offering a reduced airfare ( as of yet I don't know if it's a 1/4 off or 1/2 ) 3 to 4 nights stay in hotel, food and transport paid for in Foshan, I don't know the dates yet, but it usually at the end of October beginning of November.
'As of yet I don't know if it will be a direct flight to a city near Foshan or to Hong Kong for 1 night and a train to Foshan, then return to Hong Kong where people would be free to stay over.... and to sightsee and return to the UK themselves, the Hotel in Hong Kong is not included in the offer. If you're interested please e.mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org '
We have now lost four good friends of the festivals since Christmas 2017. Robin Burfoot, the town crier of Medway since 2004 died of heart failure on 22nd March 2017. Until his recent health problems he was regularly seen at events all around Medway, including the Rochester festivals.
Keith Biddlecombe passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on 6th March. Keith was a regular and much loved participant at the Dickens Festivals as well as being a regular and very visible helper at the Dickens costume sales. We feel the loss particularly because Vicki is an administrator and regular contributor for our Facebook page.
We are sad to report that Harvey Haynes, who was a supporter of the Dickens festivals over many years passed away at the end of January.
We have also lost Marion Stokes, who passed away in January. Our condolences to her husband Joe, also a great supporter of the Festivals.
There are short tributes on our 'Sadly Missed' page.
Dates for Dickens events in 2018