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Decision Summary

This building has been assessed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest. The asset currently does not meet the criteria for listing. It is not listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended.

Name: Former Charlie Chaplin Public House

Reference Number: 1461142


London, SE1 6TJ

The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Greater London Authority
District: Southwark
District Type: London Borough
Parish: Non Civil Parish

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Decision Date: 23-Oct-2018


Summary of Building

A former public house designed in outline by Boissevain and Osmond and completed by Erdi and Rabson for Watney Mann in 1965.

Reasons for currently not Listing the Building

The former Charlie Chaplin Public House, Elephant and Castle, of 1965, is not listed for the following principal reasons:

Degree of Architectural interest:

* although the former Charlie Chaplin Public House originally had architectural interest due to the quality of design, this has been eroded by a series of incremental changes over the years so that it does not resemble its original appearance.

Degree of Group value:

* although the former pub is in proximity to the Metropolitan Tabernacle, the Michael Faraday Memorial and the former Alexander Fleming House (now Metro Central Heights) (all Grade II) this does not confer special interest on such an altered building.


The marshy land, known as St George’s Fields was gradually developed in the C18 with a mixture of housing and institutional buildings, as was the area to its east, called Newington Butts, which included the start of the coaching road to Kent. The area became a transport hub in the C19 and was renamed Elephant and Castle, apparently after a coaching inn which stood there. The railway arrived in 1863 and the Underground in 1890 with the Northern Line, supplemented by the extension to the Bakerloo Line in 1906.

The area became known as the ‘Piccadilly of South London’ in the later C19 and early C20, with a department store, theatre and cinemas, as well as pubs. Redevelopment was first considered in the 1930s by the London County Council (LCC), but nothing came of it. Bombing in the war caused much destruction, and the LCC bought up land in the area, initially to provide parking during the Festival of Britain. The area was declared a Comprehensive Development Area (as allowed by the Town and Country Planning Act of 1947). A new road layout was implemented in the late 1950s, and this caused the demolition of further buildings, including the original Elephant and Castle pub which was set on a triangular island site. Two, large new roundabouts were created to join the many roads which converge here. In 1956 the LCC Planning Committee announced redevelopment over a site extending to thirty acres.

This scheme, drawn up by the LCC Planner, Walter Bor, included a space of three acres for a large shopping centre, to be set to the east of the short roadway that joined the two new roundabouts. This was offered through a competition to private developers and their architects. Retail space could be between 100,000 and 130,000 square feet in extent and there were to be a restaurant and two public houses (one of which, The Charlie Chaplin, was to be built into the shopping centre, and the other free standing). Office space was a requirement, and so were advertising screens on the main façade, in an attempt to reassert the Elephant and Castle as the ‘Piccadilly of the South’.

The LCC received 36 entries, several of which came from well-known practices, such as Richard Seiffert, Owen Luder, John Burnett and Tait. Five of these were short listed, including one from Erno Goldfinger, who was then building Alexander Fleming House (now Metro Heights) on the opposite side of the New Kent Road. The eventual winners were Paul Boissevain (1922-2014) and Barbara Osmond (1922-1975), a team of husband and wife. Their practice had established itself with near-wins in international competitions, including Sydney Opera House (placed third, 1957) and the northern extension to the National Gallery (placed second, 1958-1959). Although they had no direct experience of designing a shopping mall, Boissevain had toured the United States and may well have been aware of the out-of town malls being built there.

The Elephant and Castle mall opened in March 1965. Had it been finished to time in 1963 it would have been the first enclosed example of a shopping mall in the United Kingdom. Delays with construction meant that the Bull Ring in Birmingham opened in May 1964 and is considered to be the first completed shopping mall, although designed after the Elephant and Castle.

The Charlie Chaplin pub was designed as an integral part of the shopping centre and connected to it at the upper ground-floor level. The overall plan and positioning were decided by Boissevain and Osmond, but the detailed finish was undertaken by Erdi and Rabson for Watney Mann. The name of the pub was chosen in a competition and honours the comic actor who had grown up locally and played in vaudeville theatres at the Elephant and Castle as a boy. A sculpture in the form of a wrought iron mural, celebrating Chaplin’s role in ‘Modern Times’ was created using springs and cogs by the sculptor G Dereford of Marlow Mosaics. It was two storeys in height but was later replaced by the present metal silhouette of Chaplin to the right of the northern entrance front. Contemporary accounts say that the pub had two bars at ground floor level, one of which served snacks, and a cocktail bar and grill at first floor level. It was initially run for Watney’s by the Westminster Wine Company. .


A former public house designed in outline by Boissevain and Osmond and completed by Erdi and Rabson for Watney Mann in 1965.

MATERIALS and PLAN: reinforced concrete and brick with metal-framed windows and tile cladding. The building has two bar floors with a landlord’s flat above. The building adjoins the shopping centre to its west (to which it is joined) and the former Coronet cinema to its east.

EXTERIOR: the northern, entrance side has tiled panels between the bands of window and to the top of the front. The ground floor has a door at left and four windows to the right, with renewed fenestration and wood-panelled mullions. At first floor level are five windows with narrow, aluminium mullions and the second floor has similar, lower windows. A tall, recessed panel to the right of both first and second floors has a metal silhouette of Charlie Chaplin as The Tramp, with cane and bowler hat. The building is adjoined to its east by the former Coronet Cinema (not listed) and to the west by the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre (not listed).

INTERIOR: some original tiling survives on the east wall at first floor level, along with the staircase on the west side, but counters and bar spaces on both floors have been reconfigured.

Selected Sources

Books and journals
'Charlie Chaplin Wrought Iron Mural' in The Brewing Trade Review, (May 1965), 289
Blog on pub when active, accessed 11/07/2018 from https://boakandbailey.com/2017/09/sir-charlie-and-the-elephant-unreconstructed-and-underdone/


National Grid Reference: TQ3205579020

© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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This copy shows the entry on 02-Jul-2022 at 02:07:07.