A Dickens of a property to write home about
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour,” wrote Charles Dickens in A Christmas Carol. If those words resonate with you – especially as Christmas and its festivities near, then you must pay a visit to Elm Farm, the picturesque home Michael Graham is currently marketing on behalf of Dickens’ great-great grandson, Ian.
A 17th century, Grade-II listed former farmhouse, the property is perfect for Christmas says Ian (pictured, inset), whose authorial ancestor is often nicknamed the Father of Modern Christmas. And while many of Charles’ keepsakes are on longstanding loan at the Charles Dickens Museum ready for another wave of Christmastime visitors, the writer himself is ‘present’ all year round at Elm Farm. For in the study is a wall of family photographs depicting Ian’s literary lineage – a highlight of the home that for decades has brimmed with laughter, music, ideas and storytelling.
“There’s definitely a communications gene in our family,” says Ian, who runs his own marketing consultancy. “Marketing is in many ways about telling stories. Then there’s my son Mike, who’s a musician, my daughter Holly who’s a fashion stylist, and my brother Gerald, an actor, who is touring A Christmas Carol in the USA.
“It continues with my wider family. My cousin Harry Lloyd is an actor who was in The Theory of Everything with Eddie Redmayne. And my other cousin, Lucinda Hawksley, has written several biographies, while Monica Dickens was a prolific author through the 1950s and 60s.
“I’ve even published my own book, Sea Change, about my world sailing trip – it seems Charles really did pass on his creative DNA to us all.”
Another heirloom handed down through the Dickens generations is particularly seasonal. ‘Every Christmas Eve we gather round to read A Christmas Carol,” says Ian. “We sit around the fire, and we scowl at Scrooge, we weep for Tiny Tim and we light up at the end of the story. As we talk, it’s like we can reach out and touch my great-great grandfather.”
The next chapter in Ian’s life will see the 60-year-old leave his Bedfordshire home of some 20 years to navigate the seas with his wife Anne. “It is with a heavy heart that we’re selling Elm Farm,” Ian says, “But Mike and Holly have grown up, and we just rattle around in this big beautiful house. So we’ve decided to move to the coast for our love of sailing.”
When Ian and Anne relocate, Elm Farm will welcome its new owners with Dickensian conviviality, while remaining a tribute to the Dickens’ life in the community. Next to the village green, Elm Farm is surrounded by vast gardens that have hosted a marquee wedding reception, a lively birthday fireworks display and endless summer parties. Even the trees contribute to local life – their fruits are used by local chutney and cider makers in a tradition that Ian hopes will continue with the next residents.
Before then, Ian and Anne are preparing for the season’s festivities. “We’ll have a big roaring fire with a real tree and lots of candles,” says Ian. “If he could, Scrooge would walk in to Elm Farm and it would melt his heart, the home just zings with Christmas.”
Find out more about Elm Farm, in Bedfordshire’s Beeston Green is currently being marketed by our Bedford Office. To book a viewing, contact me or our Bedford team on 01234 220000, or find out more here.