UK Chaplin sources

The Bill Douglas Centre

The Bill Douglas Centre websiteThe Bill Douglas Centre based at Exeter University is a museum collection relating to pre- cinema and cinema. It has over 900 items relating to Chaplin including models, music sheets, postcards, Comic books, toys, games etc. The website lists most of these as scanned images and has a special virtual tour relating to Chaplin.

The National Archives

The National Archives websiteThere are currently 38 records listed by TNA online catalogues including the 1901 census listing for the young Chaplin. It is interesting that the TNA annual report picks out Chaplin as worthy of note. There are other records pertaining to Chaplin which are only revealed by a more thorough search such as some correspondence relating to the bfi's attempt to secure Chaplin as a patron for the proposed National Film Theatre which became mired in a foreign office enquiry as to his political leanings. Chaplin refused anyway.

The London Metropolitan archives

The London Metropolitan archives websiteThe LMA holds the records of the Lambeth Board of Guardians with which the Chaplin family had considerable interaction.

London Metropolitan Archives are at

  • 40 Northampton Road , London EC1R OHB

These are the relevant record series:

  • Renfrew Road workhouse holdings include: Admissions and discharges (1912-22); Creed registers (1873-1922); Births (1875-1916); etc.
  • Norwood School holdings include: Register of children (1875-1904); Admissions and discharges (1847-1929); Creed register (1885-1936); Baptisms (1911-39); Deaths (1901-34); Register of adopted (1901-30); Register of children emigrating (1900-30).
  • Other holdings include: Guardians' minute books (1836-1930); Financial records (1861-1930); Staff records (1851-1930); etc.

The Workhouse Image: Charlie Chaplin

A privately run website about all aspects of the history of the Workhouse, including some information and image of the Lambeth buildings and Hanwell Schools where Chaplin and Sidney spent some time.

The Cinema Museum

Image: The Cinema Museum at Renfrew Road Workhouse

The Renfrew Road Workhouse has housed the Cinema Museum for some years now. The Ronald Grant collection covers all aspects of cinema history and has a world leading collection of still photographs. They can be contacted at

The Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum websiteIn the autobiography, Chaplin tells the story of an illicit day out when he and Sydney met their mother Hannah who was staying in the workhouse. It was in the grounds of what is now the IWM that they met for a few short hours before they were separated again. The IWM film department have several unique pieces of film relating to Chaplin, Chaplin imitators at the time of the Great War and a visit by Mountbatten to Chaplin's studio.

British Pathe ITN Archive

There are 266 items listed under 'Charlie Chaplin' on the ITN database. Many of the British Pathe items are available to view free. You need to register but there is no charge for this.

The Charles Booth Online Archive

The Charles Booth Online ArchiveThe Charles Booth Online Archive is a searchable resource giving access to archive material from the Booth collections of the British Library of Political and Economic Science (the Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science) and the University of London Library.

The archives of the British Library of Political and Economic Science contain the original records from Booth's survey into life and labour in London, dating from 1886-1903. The archives of the University of London Library contain Booth family papers from 1799 to 1967.

Detail of Booth's map