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Charlie Chaplin in Lambeth

Lambeth North tube station, London

Guided by Jane

Walk Times

DayWalk TypeStart TimeEnd Time
30 August 2020 Tour du Jour10.45 am12.45 pm Summer

Short read: 100 Years of the Little Tramp.

Long read: Even if you’ve never seen a Charlie Chaplin film, you’ll recognise the smudge moustache, the bowler hat, the outsized shoes and the comic walk, for Charlie Chaplin became the most famous comic actor of all time and every bit as big a star in his day as Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson. It all started here, in London. In this part of London – where Charlie Chaplin grew up. This walk, Charlie Chaplin in Lambeth, traces the origins of his meteoric rise to become the world’s first global superstar. In Lambeth we visit the pubs where Charlie Chaplin’s father performed as a Music Hall Entertainer until his decline into alcoholism, and we’ll stand on the very spot where, as a child, Charlie Chaplin watched wide-eyed and open-mouthed, as the elite of that theatrical profession, swaggered into those pubs from their swanky pony and traps. Charlie was entranced by their flamboyant chequered suits and ostentatious bling, and vowed to make this bewitching profession his own. Heartbreakingly, we also visit the workhouse where Charlie was separated from his mother when she fell on hard times and became unable to care for him. We visit the school Charlie Chaplin attended and hear about the agonies of being kitted out in cut down versions of his mother’s stage costumes and we see the very same buildings on the very same street corners where Chaplin loitered and did his best to pass the time of day when he had nowhere else to go. We hear how Charlie’s beleaguered family was obliged to move from place to place, but as we visit a string of Charlie’s childhood homes, in each we see sights and hear stories that were to come to back to life on the silver screen. Lambeth was Charlie’s great inspiration and the look and feel of Lambeth’s streets and landmarks appear again and again in his films. And when we finally meet (and hear) the poignant story about Charlie Chaplin’s first love, we are astonished how much the actresses he cast in his films remind us of her. The walk ends at Oval Tube, and if you don’t instantly recognise the scene opposite as one from Charlie Chaplin’s most successful film, I’ll be sure to point it out. 

CHARLIE CHAPLIN IN LAMBETH – THE PRACTICALS

Charlie Chaplin in Lambeth takes place at 10.45 am on Sunday, August 30. Meet Jane just outside the exit of Lambeth North Tube.