The great-great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens, Jane Monk, isn’t just coming to this year’s event to take in the sights and share in her heritage, she’s also there to cook up a traditional English breakfast! Join Jane and Chef Mary Bass as they prepare a one-of-a-kind experience in one of Galveston’s most beloved historic homes, the 1859 Ashton Villa. Reservations are $60 per person and are available for Saturday, December 3 at 8 a.m. or Sunday, December 4 at 10 a.m.
About Jane Dickens Monk
Jane Dickens Monk’s father, Cedric Dickens, was the great grandson of Charles Dickens and had nearly finished writing his life story when he died in 2006. Jane has laboriously worked on completing those memoirs, which give a fascinating account of his life. From living with Henry Dickens and his wife, meeting Charles’ sister-in-law “Auntie Georgie” to his war years and professional career, “My Life” shows in intimate portrait of life with the Dickens name. The book will make its America debut at this year’s Dickens on The Strand and features numerous personal photos, anecdotes and more from a beloved Dickens descendant.
“This is my fifth year at Dickens on The Strand and I’m just as excited about it as the first time I attended,” explains Jane. “There always seems to be new events to see and do, as well as the ones that everyone loves, like the fantastic parades which I’m always thrilled to be part of. Coming from the UK, I always keep my fingers crossed for some wonderful Texas weather for the weekend of Dickens. I look forward to seeing everyone there.”
About Chef Mary Bass
Chef Mary Bass is a born and raised 5th generation Galvestonian, graduating from Galveston College with high honors from the Associates of Applied Sciences program in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management. In 2009 she began teaching at Alvin Community College in the culinary arts program under Chef Leslie Bartosh teaching American Regional Cuisine, and eventually added Garde Manger and Saucier to her class lineup.
She accepted a job with Haak Vineyards and Winery in 2013 as their executive chef. In 2015 she joined the crew as Executive Sous chef for the opening of a new seafood restaurant in Galveston, BLVD Seafood. She has been featured in numerous television, print and online publications such as the Great Day Houston, Fox 26 news, Galveston Daily News, Houston Press, Houstonia Magazine, KPRC Channel 2, Coast Magazine, and the Alvin Sun. She recently came in as runner up on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen. She holds membership with the Chaine des Rotisseurs and recently was awarded by Galveston.com as “Best Chef Galveston, 2015”.
About The 1859 Ashton Villa
Built by James M. Brown, in 1859, Ashton Villa was the first of many. Not only was it the first house to ever be built on Broadway Boulevard, it was the first mansion to be built on the island and one of the first private brick residences in Galveston. Construction of the house began in 1858. It was a gift for his wife, Rebecca Ashton Stoddard. The family moved into the home on New Year’s Eve day, 1859.
Ashton Villa is an Italianate villa, with wide overhanging eaves and ornate cornice brackets. It was built with a coal burning fireplace in every room and a coal burning furnace in the above ground basement. Gas chandeliers lit each room. Marble sinks separate the bedrooms and the second floor has two indoor restrooms. The water was supplied by copper and cypress cisterns mounted on the back of the house. Gravity pulled rainwater into the pipes with the excess being piped into Mrs. Brown’s rose gardens. Ceilings on the first floor are fourteen feet, on the second: twelve and on the third, ten.
Ashton Villa was saved from demolition in 1970. Galveston Historical Foundation took charge of restoring the house, and after four years of work and research, it was opened to the public in 1974. Although it retains only a few pieces of original furnishings, her architectural details are still intact, as well as many of the paintings executed by Mr. Brown’s daughter, Betty.