Tour Locations | Charles Dickens from Furnival's Inn to Doughty Street
Furnival's Inn, Charles Dickens' Home from 1834-1837
Stop here at the imposing red-brick building on your left, known as the Prudential Building – it stands on the site of what was once Furnival’s Inn. We're going to go inside and look around in a moment. Before we go in, turn your back to the building and look to the other side of the road. The building to the left of the short, narrow structure is Gresham College, another former Inn of Court – Barnard’s Inn.
It is named after Tudor nobleman, Sir Thomas Gresham, who set up free public lectures in his home. It still offers free lectures today – something of which Dickens would have approved. In Great Expectations, Pip and Herbert Pocket have their lodgings there. On his first visit, Pip was not at all impressed, as Dickens describes: “I now found Barnard to be a disembodied spirit, or a fiction, and his inn the dingiest collection of shabby buildings ever squeezed together.”
Now turn back to the former Furnival's Inn and walk through the archway into the courtyard of the building, which is now a hotel. As you go in, look for the brown plaque on the right hand wall. It records that the young Charles Dickens lived in a building on this site. The plaque is just above the first window on your right, once you've passed through the archway. This was his first home after he left his parent’s house. His younger brother Fred, lived here with him.
The original Furnival’s Inn was built in the 14th century and managed to survive the Great Fire of London. Sadly that medieval building was demolished in the early 19th century, to make way for the Furnival's Inn that Charles Dickens lived in. He moved in in 1834, six years after it was completed. After his marriage to Catherine Hogarth, the young couple and Fred Dickens moved into a bigger apartment in the same building, and their first son, Charley, was born here in January 1837. The building they lived in was demolished in the mid-19th century. The current building was named the Prudential Assurance Building, and was completed in 1879. It was designed by the great Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse, who was also the architect of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington.
Now walk back out through the archway. Turn left when you reach the road and keep walking.