When I first moved to Kennington, London, a friend of mine lent me Charlie Chaplin’s autobiography. Chaplin grew up in the local pubs and would make his way up and down the Kennington Road, drinking pints, observing the locals and having experiences that impacted his life forever. As a lover of both pubs and history, I set out to trace the footsteps of Charlie Chaplin in the form of my very own pub crawl.
"A man's true character comes out when he's drunk." – Charlie Chaplin
To begin, just across the road from Kennington tube station you’ll find The White Bear, a huge pub, which has been both a theatre and pub since 1780. This is the perfect place to begin the pub crawl because the food here is top quality and reasonably priced, and you’ll need a full stomach to go on. The pub is just a couple of minutes from Charlie Chaplin’s childhood home which is on 39 Methley Street. This house is now available on Airbnb for over £200 per night. It is believed that Methley Street was the basis for Chaplin’s 1917 film "Easy Street".
© Photo: Adam L. Maloney (Charlie Chaplin's childhood home at 39 Methley Street)
Now you’re on the Kennington Road. The Dog House is a pub that has become increasingly trendy. The interior is a bit hipstery with random antiques hanging from the walls. They play alternative music here and it gets quite busy in the early evenings. The pub is right next to Charlie Chaplin’s other house at 287 Kennington Road, where he lived for a while with his brother and father. As you come out of The Dog House, en route to the next pub, you’ll see it on the right hand side.
© Photo: Adam L. Maloney (Charlie Chaplin’s other house at 287 Kennington Road)
Whilst the Dog House can be a little loud, The Walcot 1830 is a lot more chilled. It’s also worth noting that the beers here are cheaper than all the other pubs along the route. The streets behind the pub are aligned with beautiful Georgian houses of the early 1900s. This is the halfway point of the Charlie Chaplin Pub Crawl so it’s nice to be in a calmer environment just before you head towards the last two hurdles.
This is the jewel of the pub crawl. The Tankard is decorated in a way that pays homage to its history with framed posters of Charlie Chaplin’s films. This pub was known to be one of Chaplin’s favourites. There is a sofa area and roof-garden upstairs overlooking the Kennington Road. Chaplin used to drink here often, observing the different types of people that passed through from which he would draw inspiration for his future characters.
© Photo: Adam L. Maloney (Framed posters of Charlie Chaplin's films at the Tankard pub)
In his book, Chaplin describes walking up the Kennington road and taking a look inside The Three Stags where he found his father drinking in the corner. In Chaplin’s words “That was the last time I saw him alive.” During this brief meeting, Chaplin’s dad was more affectionate than ever before as if he knew he was saying his last goodbye. This corner of the pub is now designated as "Chaplin’s Corner" - a shrine to that specific moment.
But don’t be a lightweight and finish at The Three Stags. Go a little further up the main road until you reach Lower Marsh, a gorgeous old London street with nice bars that stay open late, just behind the London Eye and River Thames. Do it for Charlie.
"A day without laughter is a day wasted." - Charlie Chaplin
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