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Music Hall Stars Of Abney Park Cemetery

August 5, 2016
by the gentle author

When the summer heat hits the city and the streets get dusty and dry, I like to seek refuge in the green shade of a cemetery. Commonly, I visit Bow Cemetery – but recently I went along to explore Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington to find the graves of the Music Hall Artistes resting there.

John Baldock, Cemetery Keeper, led me through the undergrowth to show me the memorials restored by the Music Hall Guild and then left me to my own devices. Alone in the secluded leafy glades of the overgrown cemetery with the Music Hall Artistes, I swore I could hear distant singing accompanied by the tinkling of heavenly ivories.

George Leybourne, Songwriter, Vocalist and Comedian, also known as Champagne Charlie (1842 – 1884) & Albert Chevalier (1861- 1923), Coster Comedian and Actor. Chevalier married Leybourne’s daughter Florrie and they all rest together.

George Leybourne -Champagne Charlie is my name, Champagne Charlie is my name ,There’s no drink as good as fizz, fizz, fizz, I’ll drink every drop there is, is, is!”

Albert Chevalier – “We’ve been together now for forty years, An’ it don’t seem a day too much, There ain’t a lady livin’ in the land, As I’d swop for my dear old Dutch.”

G W Hunt (1838 – 1904) Composer and Songwriter, his most famous works were “MacDermott’s War Song” (The Jingo Song), “Dear Old Pals” and “Up In A Balloon” for George Leybourne and Nelly Power.

G W Hunt

Fred Albert George Richard Howell (1843  - 1886) Songwriter and Extempore Vocalist

Fred Albert

Dan Crawley (1871 – 1912) Comedian, Vocalist, Dancer and Pantomime Dame rests with his wife Lilian Bishop, Actress and Male Impersonator. He made his London debut at nineteen at Royal Victor Theatre, Victoria Park, and for many years performed three shows a day on the sands at Yarmouth, where he met his wife.They married in Hackney in 1893 and had four children, and toured together as a family, including visiting Australia, before they both died at forty-one years old.

Dan Crawley

Herbert Campbell (1844 – 1904) Comedian and Pantomime Star. The memorial behind the tombstone was erected by a few of his friends. Herbert Campbell played the Dame in Pantomime at Drury Lane for forty years alongside Dan Leno, until his death at at sixty-one.

Herbert Campbell, famous comedian and dame of Drury Lane

Walter Laburnum George Walter Davis (1847 – 1902) Singer, Patter Vocalist and Songwriter

Walter Laburnum

Nelly Power Ellen Maria Lingham (1854 – 1887) started her theatrical career at the age of eight, and was a gifted songstress and exponent of the art of male impersonation. Her most famous song was ‘The Boy I Love Is Up In The Gallery.” She died from pleurisy on 19th January 1887, aged just thirty-two.

Nelly Power - Vesta Tilley was once her understudy

The Music Hall Guild host a free guided walk through Abney Park Cemetery to visit the Music Hall Artistes on the last Saturday of each month – meet at the gates at 2pm

10 Responses leave one →
  1. vanda permalink
    August 5, 2016

    So nice to see that I am not the only person who enjoys the solitude and beauty of old cemeteries. If I ever have the opportunity or in the financial position to visit the UK, visiting cold cemeteries will be on the top of my list. Thank you Gentle Author for your enjoyable articles.

  2. Shawdian permalink
    August 5, 2016

    Sad that so many of these talents died so young. I did an exam on The Old Music Hall’s of London and was fascinated by the robustness of these performers acts. In my teen days I visited the Leeds City Varieties Theatre, a beautiful original Victorian Theatre still as it was from the day it was built all gold paint and plush red velvet. I would sit in the tiny theatre and dream of all those old vintage stars who had graced that stage doing thier bawdy lively acts as the old compare up in his box encourages the audience of which we all had to dress in period style clothing which made the shows feel even more authentic. I hope it still goes on today, I left my home town years ago and your feature has brought back some lovely memories of family outings to the Victorian Variety shows. Thank you.

  3. August 5, 2016

    Love the idea that Albert Chevalier et al share their final resting place with the severe founders of the Salvation Army (as well as Bronterre O Brien of the Chartist movement).

  4. August 5, 2016

    We once attended a performance (Off Broadway) of “Norma Vep” and it was the most rollicking “quick change” version of a Victorian music hall melodrama. It was so exaggerated in the most wonderful way, and the small theater absolutely shook with side-splitting laughter.
    Whatever cares the audience brought in the door were quickly banished — such
    joy, loud guffaws, and just-plain-fun. Looking at these marvelous photos, above, brought it all back. Laughter is wonderful medicine — and ohboy we need it NOW.

  5. Donna permalink
    August 5, 2016

    I actually came to London from Canada in 2015 to visit Abney Park Cemetery to pay my respects to my Great Grandmother (Cordelia (nee Shearing) Craig Byerley 1853- 1937) who was laid to rest in Abney Park. Thank you Gentle Author for that memory of that wonderful visit a year ago, thank you for your blog and especially for sharing your knowledge of the East End.

  6. August 5, 2016

    Truly grateful for the insight into the demise of some of the big artists of their day. I always have had a passion for the Music Hall, and have enjoyed the period so much so, that I’m convinced I spent a previous life around the Halls.

    I also love the serenity of cemeteries.

    Thank you for giving me much pleasure and enjoyment.

    Margaret Robertson

  7. Sonia Murray permalink
    August 5, 2016

    Lovely article! When I visited my mother in Camden Town, she invariably pointed out the house on the corner of Jeffreys Street and said “That’s where Marie Lloyd lived!” I think Marie is buried at Hampstead, could be wrong. Are the music hall group doing any work on graves there? I’d love to see a picture of the lady who sang “A Little of What You Fancy Does you Good!” and of her grave!

  8. Jude permalink
    August 7, 2016

    I did this fabulous tour with my daughter last summer. Highly recommended.

  9. John Wells permalink
    September 5, 2016

    I have recently found out that my great grandfather, Walter Harley, was a sand dancer at Collins Music Hall. I wondered if you had any information on him? He is buried in Abney Park cemetery.

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