The house where Charlie Chaplin was living when he saw the man whose walk inspired “The Tramp” is for sale.
The silent film star’s childhood home has been put on the market and is estimated to be worth more than £1million.
The property in Methley Street, Kennington, is one of several in South London associated with the man who would become one of the highest earners in the world when he left to write, direct and star in movies in America.
Chaplin was 10 when his mother Hannah and brother Sydney moved into the terraced property, within sight of the Oval cricket ground, in 1898.
Her career as a singer had ended five years before, when she was booed off the stage in Aldershot. But Charles’ began the same night, when he ran on to the urging of the stage manager – though he would not perform until all the money thrown on by the crowd had been collected and given to his mother.
Chaplin’s years in Kennington were the most turbulent of his life. His father had walked out after Hannah’s affair with another performer, Leo Dryden, was revealed. She had no income, other than occasional nursing and dressmaking, and Charlie was sent to Lambeth Workhouse when he was seven.
His mother was committed to Cane Hill mental asylum because of a psychosis, perhaps brought on by syphilis and malnutrition.
For the two months she was there, Chaplin and his brother Sydney lived with their alcoholic father – who died two years later, aged 38, from cirrhosis.
Hannah and the boys moved to lodgings in Methley Street in 1898, next to a slaughterhouse and a pickle factory.
Kennington was then a very poor neighbourhood, scarcely altered from the squalour Charles Dickens recalled in Oliver Twist.
One neighbour, Archibald “Rummy” Binks, walked with a funny shuffle which young Charlie would mimic. Rummy would stand outside the Queen’s Head public house in Black Prince Road, where Charles senior was a regular. He would get the cabs from the nearby rank, with the cabbies tipping him a penny.
The movie star would later recall: “He (Rummy) had a bulbous nose, a crippled up rheumatic body, a swollen and distorted pair of feet and the most extraordinary pair of trousers I ever saw. He must have got the trousers from a giant and he was a little man.
“When I saw Rummy shuffle his way across the pavement to hold a cabman’s horse for a penny tip, I was fascinated. The walk was so funny to me that I imitated it. When I showed my mother how Rummy walked, she begged me to stop because it was cruel to imitate a misfortune like that.
“But she pleaded while she had her apron stuffed into her mouth. Then she went into the pantry and giggled for 10 minutes.
“Day after day I cultivated that walk. It became an obsession. Whenever I pulled it, I was sure of a laugh. Now no matter what else I may do that is amusing, I can never get away from the walk.”
Hannah was later hospitalised in the Lambeth Infirmary, Brook Drive, which is still standing, although it is now private apartments.
The boys were sent to the workhouse, which has also been converted into private residential homes, with the gateposts, porter’s lodge and main blocks still surviving.
The boys were then taken 12 miles away to an orphanage in Hanwell by horse and cart -a journey recalled in one of Chaplin’s most iconic movies, The Kid (1921).
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