The whimsical miniature Swiss chalet where Charles Dickens penned portions of his later works, including A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, and his unfinished novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (which he was working on in the chalet in the hours before his death) is in desperate need of restoration. The chalet, which once stood on the grounds of Charles Dickens’s home in Kent (see picture below), was a present to the writer from French actor Charles Fechter. It arrived at the railway station in 1864 in 58 separate boxes. Dickens loved its whimsy and often chose to spend the summer months writing in the chalet, which was accessed via a specially made tunnel linking it with his house.
The chalet now stands in the gardens of Eastgate House, Rochester, though it is currently suffering from dry rot and is unsafe to enter. The local tourism council, along with the Rochester and Chatham Dickens Fellowship, hope to raise £100,000 to complete the work prior to 2012, the bicentenary of Dickens’s birth. After restoration, the chalet will be opened for special events and appointments. A video of the chalet can be viewed on the BBC website and if you want to contribute to the restoration fund, you can send checks payable to the Rochester and Chatham Dickens Fellowship (Chalet Fund) to 27 Amethyst Avenue, Chatham, Kent ME5 9TX.