Dickens had to keep the incident under wraps. He had been travelling secretly with his mistress Ellen Ternan and her mother. He avoided appearing at the inquest for fear of having to reveal his travel companions and causing a scandal.
The experience was a stark contrast to Dickens’ typical London sojourns. In 1861, he took a grand house at number three Hanover Terrace, overlooking Regent’s Park for the summer social season.
Dickens often brought his daughter Mary and sons Francis and Edward to the property, which he described as “really delightful”. It was here that he hosted meetings with the pre-Raphaelite set, including the author Wilkie Collins (also a resident of the terrace), and artists Holman Hunt and John Millais.
The 6,103 square foot, five-storey property is for sale with London House estate agents for £22.5m.
The layout of the eight-bedroom, Grade I listed property remains largely unchanged since Dickens’ day, though he would perhaps not have been too familiar with the gym equipment that now lives in the separate mews property.
In lieu of Mr Collins, a brave buyer could opt to invite some more avant-garde neighbours round for tea, such as the contemporary artist Damien Hirst.