A Chaplin in London Walk

Additional Information



1866 (11 August) Birth of Hannah Harriet Pedlingham at 11 Camden Street (now Morecambe Street). She was the elder of two daughters of Charles Frederick Hill, a cobbler from County Cork and Mary Ann (nee Terry).

1885 Hannah went to South Africa with the middle aged Sydney Hawkes where their son Sydney was born on 16 March. Hannah returned to England and married Charles Spencer Chaplin on 22 June at St John the Evangalist Church. He was a fellow music hall artist she had known previously. They were living at nearby Brandon Street at the time of their marriage.

1889 Charles was born on 16 April in East Lane, probably at his grandfather's premises. The family lived in 3 rooms in West Square and employed a housemaid.

1890 Charles's parents separated. Hannah continued to work in the music halls under her stage name Lily Harley earning 25 per week.

1891 The census taken on 5 April records Hannah and her two sons in 3 rooms at 94 Barlow Street.

1892 (31 August) Hannah gave birth to a son George after an affair with Leo Dryden. The boy went to live with his father.

1894 Hannah lost her voice whilst on stage at Aldershot and the young Charles took her place. His first appearance was also her last. On a reduced income the family sold many of their possessions and moved to progressively smaller premises including a garret at 3 Pownall Terrace. Hannah attended Christ Church on Westminster Bridge Road. Charles senior only paid the weekly 10/- maintenance for Charlie occasionally and Hannah took on nursing and dressmaking but suffered from migraines. One day Sydney found a purse containing over 7 so they bought new clothes and had a holiday in Southend-on-Sea.

1896 Unable to secure the 10/- payments from Charles, Hannah's sewing machine was repossessed and the family had to go into Newington Workhouse. Three weeks later the boys were sent to the Central London District School in Hanwell where Sydney worked in the kitchen. After two months Hannah discharged the family but they only spent the day together in Kennington Park before returning to the workhouse. Sydney (aged 11) joined the 'Exmouth' training ship in November.

1897 The family were re-united but made many moves before returning to the Lambeth Workhouse from where Charlie was sent to school in Norwood.

1898 Hannah was admitted to the Cane Hill Asylum. Sydney and Charlie went to live with Charles, Louise and their son at 287 Kenninton Road. They occupied two rooms on the first floor. On her discharge Hannah and her boys moved into a single room in Methley Street, near Hayward's Pickle Factory and a slaughterhouse. Charlie joined the Eight Lancashire Lads a group of clog dancers managed by Mr Jackson. The family stayed for a time with friends of Hannahs in Stockwell.

1899 Sydney obtained work as a telegraph boy.

1901 The census records Charlie living at 94 Ferndale Road with Mr Jackson and his family along with other 'Lancashire Lads'. Charlie saw his father at the Three Stags pub. Soon after he was admitted to St Thomas's Hospital where he died aged 37 from drink related illnesses. He was buried in Tooting Cemetery. Charlie earned a living flower selling, as a chandler's errand boy, cleaning in a doctors, as a page boy, in WH Smiths and at a printers. Sydney took a job on a passenger boat and Hannah and Charlie moved into 2 rooms over a barbers in Chester Street. When Sydney's return was delayed they returned to 3 Pownall Terrace and Charlie earned money by selling clothes and making toy boats. Hannah, suffering from malnutrition and syphilis, was admitted to the infirmary then transferred to the asylum.

1902 Charlie was given the part of Billie the page in a Sherlock Holmes play which toured the UK. His brother Sydney joined him for the next tour and whilst they were at Reading Hannah was discharged.

1903 Hannah returned to Chester Street whilst they went on their third tour but was re-admitted to the asylum.

1906 Charlie went to work for Fred Karno and he and Sydney took a flat at 15 Glenshaw Mansions on the Brixton Road.

1909 Charlie went on tour to Paris then the provinces.

1910 Charlie went with Karno to the USA. On his return he found Sydney had married and given up the flat. They paid for Hannah to go to a private asylum for a time.

1912 Charlie went back to America.


My Autobiography by Charles Chaplin
Old OS MAP London Sheet 89: Kennington & Walworth 1914
Lambeth Archives online image collection [
Newington Workhouse [webpage] and Lambeth Workhouse [webpage]
Chaplin in the workhouses [
The Cinema Museum at the old Lambeth Workhouse [
The London Film Museum at the old County Hall [

london-footprints.co.uk 2012

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