Buy a slice of Christmas past with a link to Charles Dickens

Elm Farm, Beeston
Elm Farm, Beeston

A picturesque farm that is home to a descendant of Charles Dickens is on the market.

The 17th century, Grade II listed Elm Farm at Beeston has been home to the author’s great-great grandson Ian, and is being sold with a guide price of £700,000.

The former farmhouse is perfect for Christmas says Ian, whose 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.

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.

Ian, who runs his own marketing consultancy, said: “There’s definitely a communications gene in our family. 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.

Ian said: “Every Christmas Eve we gather round to read A Christmas Carol, 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.

Ian said: “It is with a heavy heart that we’re selling Elm Farm. 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.

Ian said: “We’ll have a big roaring fire with a real tree and lots of candles. If he could, Scrooge would walk in to Elm Farm and it would melt his heart, the home just zings with Christmas.”

For more details of the property visit www.michaelgraham.co.uk

Factfile

Ian started his career as a professional photographer and his talents are evident in the enchanting picture he has taken of Elm Farm. Unlike many photographs today, the picture does not rely on Photoshop.

He said: “It was the perfect moment. There was just enough snow to reflect the light of the camera flash, and it was dim enough for the Christmas lights to glow.”

Ian’s appreciation of great photography – and design – coupled with his marketing expertise influenced his choice of estate agents. He said: “You look through the paper and Michael Graham’s advertising is clean, polished and well presented. It stands out a mile.”