Introducing … Charlie’s London

Charlie Chaplin
Maybe it’s because he’s a Londoner … Charlie Chaplin

Introducing a new series of guest posts by Chaplin expert and south Londoner Ayşe Behçet: a personal journey through Charlie Chaplin’s London.

Firstly, I want to say thank you for taking the time to read my first blog and what I hope will be an interesting journey through some unknown gems connected with one of the geniuses of early cinema, Charlie Chaplin.

Ayse
Ayşe

My fascination with Chaplin started at a very young age. My grandmother and I would watch his films on a Saturday afternoon and thinking back on it now it was always raining. It was always about three in the afternoon too! With so many other comedians and great silent films circulating, at first I didn’t understand why we mostly watched Chaplin, but soon it all became clear.

My grandmother, my mother and myself were all born just off the Walworth road, so was Charlie. We had meandered around the back streets of Southwark, Camberwell, Lambeth, East Street Market and Kennington, so had Charlie. We had all seen the beautiful buildings and yet the depravity and roughness of the streets, and of course, so had Charlie. Sitting with Nan one day I found all this out, and suddenly I learned more about her through him than I had ever known before. From an early age I felt this immense pride that this hero, icon and pioneer had started life in the same humble beginnings as so many members of my family and he proved that anything was possible.

The images most people associate with Chaplin are the Little Tramp and his glamorous and often debauched escapades in in Hollywood – but I want to look at something more. I want to look at the real Chaplin. The houses, streets and community he knew are all gone, but the signs of his times still linger on in small near-forgotten landmarks scattered across the city. The Three Stags pub where he last saw his father, The Coal Hole Public House, a first steady job for Syd, East Lane and of course 287 Kennington Road, his home while he lived with his father are all still very much there. These buildings still tell tales, as do many other spots in London, and this blog aims to show you all of them, proving that Charlie was always  a London boy – despite the glitz of Hollywood.

Hope you enjoy the instalments, the first blog spot will be Monday 19 March and will run fortnightly from that point on. Keep in touch.

Happy walking round London with me!

Ayşe Behçet

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16 thoughts on “Introducing … Charlie’s London”

  1. Thank you very much 🙂 i have enjoyed putting it all together and i hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as enjoyed writing it 🙂

  2. Ayse, never really knew much about Charlie Chaplin before, but want to know more now ! Looking forward to your next blog ! ;-0

  3. Thank you so much! the next instalment is currently being written and I’m excited about it being posted for you all to see:)

  4. I enjoyed visit to Charlie’s world. Wish I could be there. I’m a big fan ,even wrote a novel about him. Thanks for your post. Gerry in St Louis Missouri

  5. It’s still Charlie’s London, but I’ve been intrigued to learn that the great man may have actually been born in a vardo on the Black Patch in Smethwick. It sounds unlikely given the blue plaque on the Kennington Road address and his birth certificate but from official secrets papers, released in 2012, we find a report that MI5 intelligence officers were unable to confirm Charlie Chaplin’s reputed place of birth. This gives some credibility to the alternative story of a birth among gypsies in the English Midlands – a place visited earlier this year by Michael Chaplin and his wife, the artist, Pauline Betaudier… http://news.yahoo.com/british-spies-stumped-charlie-chaplin-mystery-000427298.html

    1. Unfortunately Charlie kept many letters of people claiming alternative birth places for him because he considered the stories to be comical. He himself has jokingly commented that he was born in France to sound more glamorous in his early career. David Robinson himself states that although no birth certificate exists this was very normal for Dickensian children. Back then if a child was not registered in six weeks of birth the family was fined. As well as this the blue plaques themselves are open to inaccuracy. The plaque in east lane was locally bought and the Kennington road plaque is not only on the wrong door but also carries the wrong dates. Charlie commented several times that it was 287 when documents suggest it was actually 289.

      1. This is what I love – and sometimes hate – about research. It’s so often about probables with debate wandering back and forth and now and then converging on a new piece of evidence for the research terriers (me included) to debate – sometimes with teeth bared. God! The man was a joy though. This matter of his birthplace is a sideshow, but an intriguing one. I am one of the Friends of Black Patch Park who helped save it through campaigning against it becoming an industrial development. It’s just next to the remains of James Watt’s Soho Foundry – a fact. The association with the Romany who were turfed from the Black Patch by giorgio settlers is undeniable. The Chaplin link has many loose ends but I think we are in the range of probability here, but I declare an interest. It would be good for the area, an impoverished one, if Ted Rudge and other researchers following up on this story could add to its credentials. Charlie would have been amused would he not?

  6. Dear Ayşe. You first enjoyed Chaplin as a child. Me too! This was a picture of a Christmas party which some angelic archivist kept so I could recall laughing so much at him I was nearly ill! Whether he was born in London or Smethwick or France what really matters is that he was born!
    Christmas at Fasnakyle, Inverness-shire
    Regards Simon

    1. My only wish and hope is we can keep his memory alive and I hope to do that with everything humanly possible! My hero and my idol without any doubt! I hope I do him justice!

  7. I love reading your posts and comments. Anything having to do with Charlie’s life, films… and myths… keep him alive in so many ways. I would invite you, and any of your readers, to read my blogs about Charlie, which I started last April on his birthday. Keep up the interesting writing and research. You never know what’s out there.

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