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Charlie Chaplin

 

Charlie Chaplin was born on 16 April 1889, in East Street, off Lambeth Walk, London. (Long demolished).His parents, Charles Chaplin Snr. and his mother Hannah Hill, (stage name Lilly Harley), separated when Charlie was little more than a baby. His mother continued to work as a vocalist/entertainer until she suffered voice loss in 1894. Following the mental collapse of his mother and her admission to Cain Hill mental institution the young Charlie Chaplin was abandoned to his fate in the Lambeth Workhouse, which was situated behind Bedlam Lunatic Asylum (today the Imperial War Museum). He was later moved to a school for paupers in Hanwell

He went to live with his father at 287 Kennington Road. His father, who now had a new lady friend, and was reputed to be an alcoholic, had become fairly successful and owned several pubs around the Lambeth Walk, including the Three Stage in Kennington Road.

Charlie spent most of his early life centred in and around the Lambeth Walk. His most famous film character, the Tramp, was modelled on a person called Rummy Binks, who took care of the horses at the Queen's Head ,(owned by Charlie's uncle), in Black Prince Road (then Broad Street).

(My grandparents at that time lived at 4, Vauxhall Walk, the Queens Head being two doors away.)

Charlie attended several schools, including one in Sancroft Street. (which I also attended many years later)

After working with several showbiz troupes in 1910 Charlie was off to America where he starred in hundreds of silent comedy films, co-founded the film production conglomerate, United Artists, and became the most famous entertainer in history.

To commerate his Lambeth Walk heritage the Regal cinema (corner Black Prince Road and Kennington Road) had a huge plaster/stone mural in the foyer depicting Charlie Chaplin in his bowler hat and cane outfit, with the inscription Lambeth’s Child The Worlds Star. (If my memory has failed me as to the exact wording please let me know so I may correct it.) The Regal cinema became the Granada and is today a block of flats. (What else?)

Charlie became known as a womaniser and a bit of a tyrant, having had four wives and several children.

It was said, although he referred to Lambeth Walk as a hard place with people of “metal”, he found it too painful to refer much to his early life. He returned in the 1950's to visit his childhood homes. It is rumoured he also visited the Lambeth Walk whilst in disguise, but this has never been confirmed.

It is interesting to note that the Lambeth Walk/Kennington area, being close to the West End, was the centre of the showbiz community at the time of Chaplin’s childhood. Many residents would have been, and many still are, descended from showbiz artistes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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