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Music Hall Artistes Of Abney Park Cemetery

August 16, 2021
by the gentle author

In summer, I often seek refuge in the green shade of a cemetery. Commonly, I visit Bow Cemetery and recently I visited Highgate Cemetery but sometimes I explore Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington to pay homage to 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

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At Highgate Cemetery

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14 Responses leave one →
  1. August 16, 2021


    Many thanks for this ‘old cemetery tour’ – it’s quite interesting.
    Below please find (and enjoy) the absolutely fantastic performance of the
    Macdermott’s War Song by Robin Hunter (written by G.W. Hunt).

    Kind regards,

    V. Burmistrov, Russia

  2. August 16, 2021

    My daughter lived a couple of streets from the Cemetery a few years ago. I often spent a quiet hour walking and reflecting there. I’d hum those old music hall songs, then walk on to the section where the Sally Army Booth family are interred, and sing a few hymns too… Thanks for bringing back happy memories

  3. Lorraine permalink
    August 16, 2021

    Lovely pictures. My husband descends from an entertainment family dynasty starting with a theatre owner Henry Hughes (1784-1836) who married actress Sophia Wentworth (1783-1814), and includes musicians, comedians, actors & singers – of both sexes – who were well known during the Victorian era. So far I have counted about 17 family members involved in the industry. I know that some of them were buried at Nunhead Cemetery, but there is quite a bit of info missing from my records on burial places.

  4. Joy permalink
    August 16, 2021

    Very interesting enjoyable read .
    Has there been a clean up programme on the Music Hall stars memorials ? They all seem very clean against those around them.

  5. August 16, 2021

    A different graveyard, but I always liked ‘Carlton, the Human Hairpin’, buried in Highgate East.
    Arthur Philps (1881 – 1942) was a magician and comedian who was, apparently, able to alter his height at will. He was very popular at the beginning of the 20thC but seems to have gained weight in his middle years and focused on his magic and card tricks, a Hairpin no longer. He performed for ENSA during the Second World War.

  6. Bernie permalink
    August 16, 2021

    Alas alas! I spent my youth in Stoke Newington and passed Abney Part cemetery often enough, but it never occurred to me to wander around nor that such and so many notable persons were there interred. Alas alas!

  7. August 16, 2021

    How wonderful to learn about the music hall stars buried in Abney Park. It suggests that they were non-conformists or dissenters from the established churches, which is also true of many silk weavers and craftspeople who worked in Spitalfields. Abney Park became the ‘overflow’ for non-conformist burials after Bunhill Fields in the City of London was closed. My family began their silk weaving business in Spitalfields in 1720 and are still weaving in Suffolk today, 300 years later. Many of my ancestors are buried in Bunhill Fields and Abney Park, so I feel a great affinity for both of those places.

  8. August 16, 2021

    What a beautiful place! Thank you, dear G.A.

  9. August 16, 2021

    I love the special atmosphere of cemeteries. And I also like to spend time there.

    Love & Peace

  10. Peter Hart permalink
    August 16, 2021

    Lovely read and pictures. Thank you GA.

  11. Stephanie Watson permalink
    August 16, 2021

    Thanks so much for this! It was strangely coincidental, as I visited Abney last Saturday, 14th August 2021. I live in Sussex but many of my family lived in and around Hackney for about three hundred years, and I know of some buried at Abney, and undoubtedly many were non-conformists (rejected organised religion due to Catholic convent educations etc., fought in the battle of Cable Street etc.) There was a surprisingly rich history in my family of those who joined the army and went to India, Afghanistan etc., and also had many friends within different communities (ethnic and religious/non-religious). I can well remember my East End grandmother Kittie Watson singing music hall tunes, and praising the Jewish culture and influences in the East End, the superb bagels etc. I have one relative in particular: Emily Watson (born Huerta) who died in 1958 who is buried in Abney Park Cemetery. I’d love to find her grave…I tried on Saturday but just too overgrown, and I had only her plot number, and there were no signs to the specific area (it would have helped if the different paths had some discreet indication perhaps?, but also if I had ‘googled’ the correct map!) She is at: Sec. J03, Index 8S11, I have asked the Abney Park Trust to help me find her for a small charge…It ‘s nice to remember these people, the talented artistes, and well the many poor, but endlessly interesting and enterprising of the area, who loved and supported them…It was nice to see that the graves for those killed in the First World Ward had been cleaned/maintained? Quite touching, as often it was those who had so little, who gave so much…

  12. Paul Loften permalink
    August 16, 2021

    I lived opposite the entrance to Abney Park cemetery for years . They used to run through the cemetery dressed as ghosts on Halloween . You could hear the comedians laugh from their grave .
    Talking about laughter. I think Harold Steptoe and his cronies sang Dear old Pals on the horse and cart that carried his dad to his grave in the feature film. The old git woke up whilst they buried him and rose from the dead ,with a white sheet over his head, whilst all the mourners fled in panic. Thinking of this scene still leaves me in stitches .

  13. Bill permalink
    August 16, 2021

    Herbert Campbell’s grave and monument look like porphyry! Most impressive. Swank, even.

  14. August 18, 2021

    My late grandmother lived in a house which overlooked Abney Park cemetary. As a child I spent many days looking out of the upper floor windows at the gravestones and found it all a bit eerie!

    My late partner actually went on a tour but I never got round to doing this, although I know the area very well.

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