Seen on the Green
Famous Faces From Chingford
by Councillor Thom Goddard, Chingford Historical Society member.
This Month: Seen But Not Forgotten
Over the past 3 years 'Seen on the Green' has profiled some of the most famous people to have been born or lived in the wonderful area of Chingford. However, there are many more who live and have lived among us who hit the headlines for reaching the top of their profession.
David Beckham may be Chingford's most famous son but there are plenty of sporting heroes who have called Chingford home. Potential sports stars of the future Ben and Sam Bolger are from our area. Ben Bolger is a professional rugby league player for Harlequins in the English 'Super League'. Ben has also played for Saracens rugby union side and Essex County. His brother, Sam Bolger, plays for the Under-20s Harlequins team. Both are tipped to play for England in the future. The British Commonwealth Middleweight Champion Michael Watson has lived in Chingford. Back to football, Chingford is also home to Football World Cup winning manager Sir Alf Ramsey's Freemasonry regalia. His Lodge, Waltham Abbey Lodge No. 2750, is based in the Chingford Masonic Hall, where he attended many times. Sir Alf's wife donated his regalia to Chingford Masonic Hall after his death in 1999.
In the music world the DJ and "UK Garage Godfather"1 Grant Nelson was born and raised in Chingford. Edward 'Eddie' Brett, whose band the 'Lovable Rogues' found fame on 'Britain's Got Talent', lives in Chingford. Although Seen on the Green has profiled James 'Kenzie' Mackenzie, the 9 other members of the hip hop group 'Blazin' Squad' are from Chingford. When the band relaunched themselves in 2005 they used local knowledge to change their band name to 'Friday Hill'. The 'Larkswood Open Air Pool', commonly known as Chingford Lido, saw over 300,000 people a year go through its doors in the early 1960s. One of these was a young Shane Fenton, with his band 'Shane Fenton and the Fentones', who went on to become Alvin Stardust. Alvin says he was taken there by Mick Jagger who called it 'his favourite place in London in the summer'.
While 'Seen on the Green' has written about James Alexandrou, there are many other famous actors and actresses who live and have lived in Chingford. Daniella Westbrook is another 'Eastenders' star who lives in the area. Patsy Smart, the star of 'Upstairs, Downstairs', was born and raised in Chingford, and Jack Watling, a British film stalwart who starred in Goodbye Mr Chips and The Demi-Paradise opposite Sir Laurence Olivier, was also born in Chingford. Along with actors, Chingford has wonderfully talented writers including Jill Barklem who illustrates and writes the 'Brambly Hedge' book series. In years passed Chingford was also home to England's greatest poet, Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson, who lived here for a short time before moving to High Beech in 1837 where he lived until 1840.
In a category all to himself is Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the scouts and girl guides, and first 'Chief Scout of the World'. The scout movement bought Gilwell Park, in Chingford, Essex at the time, in 1919. Although Lord Baden-Powell never lived there he emphasized the crucial role Gilwell Park played in advancing the Scout movement. When knighted in 1929 he chose to be known as 'Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell' in honour of "the heart of the international scouts in Chingford"2. Another internationally known figure is Chris Barltrop who was born and raised in Chingford, and was the Ringmaster for the Moscow State Circus.
Along with the famous there are the infamous. Highwayman Dick Turpin had a hide-out in Epping Forest and robbed at least 4 houses in Chingford in 1734, though there is no evidence he lived here. Other notorious criminals include the Kray brothers - Ronnie, Reggie and Charlie - who are all buried in Chingford Mount Cemetery with their beloved mum, Violet Lee.
Over the last three years 'Seen on the Green' has profiled many of the most talented and high profile people to have been born, raised and lived in Chingford. Now we look to the future to see who else from our area will see success or hit the headlines. We hope you will see many more highly successful people that you can meet in the Mount or will have Seen on the Green!
2. Lord Baden-Powell, Paris, 1931.