Skip to content

Music Hall Artistes Of Abney Park

June 3, 2023
by the gentle author

Meet me tomorrow on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral and we will spend the afternoon walking eastward together through the square mile to explore the wonders and the wickedness of the ancient City of London.

Click here to book for The Gentle Author’s City of London walk on Sunday 4th June


In Abney Park Cemetery I sought 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, 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

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Annie S permalink
    June 3, 2023

    I live just up the hill from Abney Park Cemetery, it’s a very interesting place.
    Did you see the tomb of Frank Bostock and his wife with the lion sitting on top? Not exactly Music Hall but certainly an entertainer and showman who worked with animals and quite a character!
    For anyone interested …

  2. June 3, 2023

    A great selection of performers but sad to see that so many passed away young. They would have been contemporaries of my great, great aunt and uncle who were performing around the same time. Their lives were fascinating and the theatre lifted them out of poverty and provided regular employment. I do hope that other readers with Music Hall ancestry research their family tree too. Although my aunt and uncle were well-known, it was their granddaughter, known as Esta Stella, who became most prolific of all. It has been my honour to keep their memory alive although sources focusing on this period of theatre history do not appear to be as numerous as I would have hoped. I find the lives of these highly individual performers fascinating as well as their contribution to popular entertainment and theatre. Thank you GA for another interesting post.

  3. June 3, 2023

    Smashing post, thank you.

  4. Richard Cleaver permalink
    June 3, 2023

    Fascinating. What tales these characters must keep with them, gaiety and adventure intertwined with economic hardship and the struggles of life in Victorian London. I find Nelly Power’s portrait particularly haunting, her smile and gaze suggesting she has much to tell, secrets only she keeps forever now.

  5. Jim Keltz permalink
    June 3, 2023

    Why did they all die so young?

  6. Linda Granfield permalink
    June 3, 2023

    It’s a ‘rabbit hole’ for sure (I just spent over an hour reading various parts and watching videos) but some of your readers might like to follow the Abney Park Restoration project online.

    Biodiversity, renewal, and a means to bring the larger community into a revitalized spot. If the restored park opens this summer, as proposed, it will be a ‘must-visit’ item on any travel list.

  7. June 3, 2023

    My great grandparents were music hall artists. John and Florence McMurray – stage names Dale and Vale. It was a dance act. John also did a solo comedy act under the name John Kennedy. I have some of the play bills. They were on the same bill as Chung Ling Soo – the American who accidentally got shot and died during his act in stage.

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS