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Music Hall Artistes Of Abney Park Cemetery

July 23, 2014
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 last week 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 newly 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 will be hosting a free guided walk through Abney Park Cemetery to visit the Music Hall Artistes next Sunday 27th July – meet at the cemetery gates at 2pm

19 Responses leave one →
  1. Roger Carr permalink
    July 23, 2014

    “the cemetery’s too small, there’ll be no room for them all, so don’t have any more, Mrs Moor”.

  2. Molasses permalink
    July 23, 2014

    It is heartening the graves restored and memories preserved – our lives in this planet are fleetingly fragile – when gone, memories are tenuous.

  3. July 23, 2014

    Old cemeteries are often beautiful places to walk, and this one is no exception – a wonderful place to dream. Valerie

  4. July 23, 2014

    When my daughter lived in Stoke Newington, I often used to wander through the cemetery when I visited her. So many ‘greats’ buried there. I love the Sally Army section too . Thanks for another informative post.

  5. July 23, 2014

    Lovely post, thanks 🙂

  6. July 23, 2014

    Lovely images and a fitting contrast to the Salvation Army corner of Abney Park.

  7. July 23, 2014

    Me too love to visit cemeteries, especially on hot summer days in the shade of the trees. What an exciting idea to oppose these pictures of death with those of former life…

    Love & Peace

  8. Philip Marriage permalink
    July 23, 2014

    Graveyards are such fascinating places, reading the tombstones and wondering what kind of lives the person lived. These, no doubt, led stimulating and demanding lives but they did not generally have long lives.

  9. July 23, 2014

    Heavenly post, if you’ll forgive the pun!

  10. July 23, 2014

    The music hall guild does a free tour of music hall stars at Abney the last Sunday every month. See for more on this and other events at Abney Park , where you can also sign up for our mailing list.

  11. Pauline Taylor permalink
    July 23, 2014

    This is of particular interest to me as many members of my family are buried in Abney Park Cemetery including my great grandfather. His father, Samuel Denton, was a witness to the death of Mr James Braidwood who was killed by a warehouse wall falling on him during the Great Fire in Tooley Street in June 1861. Mr Braidwood was the Superintendent of the London Fire Engine Establishment, and he had gone to the scene of the fire to help to give the exhausted firemen a nip of brandy. My 2xgreat grandfather was a shipwright who lived in Tooley Street and he was walking home when he saw the wall fall on James Braidwood. this is what he said at the inquest ” I am a shipwright and I live in Tooley Street. About three or four minutes before the wall fell I was walking down the yard. One of the men asked me what I thought of it, and I said it would be a fearful thing before it was ended. I saw the wall fall, I saw it coming, and made a rush to get clear, a second later it fell upon Mr Braidwood, burying him beneath the ruins.”

    Mr Braidwood was buried in Abney Park Cemetery on 29 June 1861, he funeral procession was a mile and a half long, shops were closed along the route, crowds lined the pavements and all the city churches rang their bells. There is a memorial to him in the Cemetery.

    The fire in Tooley Street was the worst since the Great Fire of London in 1666, it burned for two weeks and the cost was estimated at two million pounds!

  12. Janet Dobson permalink
    July 24, 2014

    This was lovely to read through. Been years since I’ve been in that area but my grandfather is buried in that cemetery although I’ve never found his grave. I have found the number so if I ever get a chance to come back I’ll look for him. Lovely to know he is resting somewhere like this with such wonderful people.

  13. Brian Ekins permalink
    November 10, 2014

    To anyone out there, does anyone have any information on Edwin Bird/Fred Herbert, Music Hall Artiste in the early 1900’s? Edwin was one of my Great Grandfathers and I believe used Fred Herbert as his stage name. I have recently found that Edwin had a son, Frederick Herbert Bird, who died at the age of 2. I also believe that at one time Edwin was Secretary of the Variety Artist Federation.
    Hopefully. Brian Ekins.

  14. Martin Palmer permalink
    September 8, 2016

    My grandmother was a pantomime and musical hall artist and was buried somewhere in Abney Park Cemetery. Her name was Edith Palmer and her stage name Kitty Curtis. She performed as a singer, dancer and male impersonator. I have several postcards of her, one showing that she was Principal Boy in Harry Lauder’s “Three Cheers” in Glasgow in 1917.
    She married a clown, one of the first “Cocos.” There is a family story, possibly apocryphal, although I like to think not, that grandad was a drinking buddy of Harry Houdini and Charlie Chaplin. The story goes that coming home very drunk with Houdini after a performance, neither my grandfather nor, more significantly, Houdini were able to open the front door. And they had the key!! A nice story, but as far as I’m aware, Houdini, unlike Chaplin, did not spend that much time in London. Still, you never know…

  15. Tony Bird permalink
    September 29, 2016

    Trying to contact Brian Ekins

  16. John Carey permalink
    October 9, 2016

    Martin Palmer
    I would be grateful if you could contact me with regards to any information you may have on Edith Palmer “Kitty Curtis”. I am currently undertaking some research on my family tree and would appriciate any help you can give me.
    Thank you
    John Carey

  17. Martin Palmer permalink
    October 22, 2016

    John Carey
    I would gladly relate anything I can recall of my grandmother, and if you would like them, I could send copies of all the pictures I have of her.
    My sister might remember more.
    I have not done much research myself, but it has been suggested to me that it might prove useful to find a biography of Harry Lauder ( or should have inexpensive options), or to check with Glasgow newspapers ( one postcard I have shows that she performed at the Princess’s theatre in Glasgow in 1917.)
    If you are interested, what would be the most convenient way to do this?

  18. John Carey permalink
    October 23, 2016

    Thank you for replying, I would be grateful for anything that you may have to help me.

    I think the easiest way of doing this is by giving you my email address for future correspondence. My email is, hopefully if you send me an email we could correspond more privately.

    Thank you once again for your reply



  19. Brian Ekins permalink
    January 18, 2019

    To Tony Bird, I have only just seen your message from Sept 2016, “trying to contact me”. Hope you see this and my e mail address.

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