Charles Dickens and Leamington Spa.


In October 1838, Charles Dickens travelled with his friend, the illustrator Hablot Knight Browne (a.k.a ‘Phiz’) to the Midlands and Wales. He stopped off at Leamington Spa, Warwickshire en route, where he was able to visit the local castles at Kenilworth and Warwick.


1838 Visit.


Contemporary sketch of the Copps’s Royal Hotel on the High Street of Leamington Spa.

Charles Dickens stayed for one night in Leamington Spa, at the Copps’s Royal Hotel on the High Street on 29 October 1838.

The following day, Dickens and Browne visited the castles at Kenilworth and Warwick. He was impressed by the ruins at Kenilworth but said of Warwick Castle that it was “possessing no very great attraction beyond a fine view and some beautiful pictures“.

The travellers then continued their journey to Stratford-upon-Avon staying there also for one night before travelling on to Shrewsbury.


Inspiration for Dombey and Son.

Charles Dickens is noted for using places he visited and people he met into his works and Leamington Spa was no exception, although it was a number of years later before he would use his experiences in his novel Dombey and Son, serialised between October 1846 and April 1848.

In the novel, following the death of his son, Paul Dombey goes to recuperate at Leamington Spa with his friend Joe Bagstock. While in the area Dombey and Bagstock meet Edith Granger and her mother and the group visits Warwick castle and “the haunted ruins of Kenilworth.”



The Copps’s Royal Hotel in Leamington Spa, which opened in 1827, was demolished in 1847 to make way for the building of a railway bridge.

Leamington Spa. Charles Dickens came here on 29 October 1838, staying at Copps' Royal Hotel on the High Street in Leamington Spa.
Kenilworth Castle. Dickens visited Kenilworth Castle on 30 October 1838.
Stratford-upon-Avon. After his visit to the Leamington Spa area, Charles Dickens travelled to Stratford-upon-Avon, staying there overnight.
Warwick Castle. Dickens visited Warwick Castle on 30 October 1838.



Further Reading on The Circumlocution Office.


Further Reading (external sites).

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