£2million Grant for Dicken's Home

Charles Dickens's former home is to receive a £2 million grant, the Heritage Lottery Fund said today.

The Charles Dickens Museum, based in the house where he wrote The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist, has been awarded the money to help house more than 10,000 books, documents and manuscripts relating to his life.

Dickens lived in the townhouse in Doughty Street, in Bloomsbury, central London, from 1837 to 1839 and there penned the novels which launched him to national fame.

After the success of The Pickwick Papers, he and his family moved on to larger quarters near Regent's Park and the house was converted into a museum in 1925.

He wrote from a study on the second floor and the room still contains the desk he used throughout his career.

The grant will be used to double the current exhibition space and help restore the building to better recreate the original 19th century atmosphere.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, chairman of the Heritage Lottery Fund, described the museum as a "gem in the heart of London".

She said: "The £2 million investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund will help radically transform not just the building itself but the way people experience and learn about this internationally-revered literary master."

Philip Pullman, author of the His Dark Materials trilogy, welcomed the grant to the museum, saying: "Everyone who visits will benefit from a closer acquaintance with this most English, but most universal, of authors.

"It deserves the support of the nation."

Shannon Hermes, the museum's manager, said: "For us it is a very positive decision and the funds are very much needed to restore the museum and ensure it continues to stay open and houses Dickens's work."

Four other projects were given initial support by the Lottery Fund, a first step towards receiving a full grant.

House Mill, the largest remaining tidal mill in the world, has been given preliminary approval for a £2.65 million grant.

The mill, in Bromley-by-Bow, east London, was given £248,000 immediately to develop restoration plans.

Castle Drogo, in Exeter, Devon, the last castle built in England, was given a first-round pass of £2.5 million, while the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland was given initial support for a £1.8 million grant, including £165,000 in development funding.

Dunfermline, the Scottish capital between the 11th and 15th centuries, was given initial support for a £2.8 million grant, of which £24,000 was given immediately in development funding.