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Photos by Rob Tysall

Born into Victorian London slums, Charlie Chaplin achieved worldwide fame, win numerous awards and be knighted by The Queen. Ann Evans tells us more about Chaplin’s World.



Charlie Chaplin was undoubtedly the greatest artist of the silent movie era and an iconic figure in the world of film entertainment. His portrayal of a funny little tramp in baggy trousers, bowler hat and cane is instantly recognisable – even now, more than a century since he first appeared on the silver screen in the early 1900s. Without a doubt, Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin is considered one of the most important figures in the film industry.



Thankfully, his legacy lives on, through the creation of Chaplin’s World at his former home, Manoir de Ban, Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland. The house he and his wife Oona and their eight children lived in from 1952 until his death on Christmas morning 1977.

The dream of creating a very special museum dedicated to Chaplin’s life and the history of the films he wrote, directed, produced, starred in – and even composed the music for, was a dream that Yves Durand longed to fulfill. As an experienced museographer with the conception and design of many successful museums and shows under his belt, he and co-founder Philippe Meylan started the ball rolling in 2000.



With the family on board, it was still 16 long, difficult years before Chaplin’s World came to fruition and opened its gates to the public. Mid-way during that period, B-C-ing-U writer and photographer, Ann and Rob were privileged to go along to Manoir de Ban, in 2008, to talk to Yves Durand – and to get a look around Charlie Chaplin’s home long before work started.



As well as talking about how the plans for Chaplin’s World, Yves talked about the life of Charlie Chaplin in Corsier-sur-Vevey. “He had been to this part of the world as a tourist and had fallen in love with the lake and the mountains,” said Yves. “When he bought it, it was a forest and a vineyard. The manor was built in the middle of the 19th century. Many of the trees were hundreds of years old. In five days, he made his mind up to buy this house with its magnificent views of the mountains and lake. He loved the gardens and the trees.



“Chaplin loved flowers and he had three people to help him take care of the gardens. He was a gardener himself and grew roses everywhere. There were flowers everywhere, all the walls and balconies were covered in flowers.  He had an orchard, so there was white apple blossom in the spring, lots of apple trees, where the kids would play. He fell in love with the growing aspect of the land.”



Yves Durand talked too of how sad it was at that moment back in 2008 that everything was in storage, even though there were some wonderful things to see, such as his grandfather clock and his beautiful grand piano which the eminent Swiss-Romanian pianist and family friend Clara Haskil would play when she called on Chaplin.



Yves Durand added, “It is very sad seeing the house empty, so we will make this home almost exactly like it was, the kitchen the library, living room, everything just as it was. This project has been in conjunction throughout with the family. The children are all part of the project, we will do nothing without their collaboration.

“What will be seen will be the real life of Charlie Chaplin without any censorship, even his problems. We will tell the story as true as possible. We want the place to be very real and true. We have a lot of his memorabilia, a lot of raw materials, letters, even love letters, tickets, scripts, we have almost everything. Too much to exhibit, so there will also be temporary exhibitions too.”



Finally in 2016, Chaplin’s World opened to the public and has been a huge success ever since. In 2018 it was nominated by the European Museum Academy as the best museum in Europe 2018. It also won the Trip Advisor Travellers’ Choice award, ranking it as the “Number One Museum” to visit in Switzerland. And won first prize at the Swiss MICE Awards 2020 in the category “Special Location”.



Bringing us right up to date, Yves Durand has created a new temporary exhibition, The Kid, which opened the day after our recent visit on 18th March 2022 and will be available for visitor to enjoy through to September 2022. We were delighted to get a preview and to see the whole of Chaplin’s World.

Stepping through the gates and seeing the Manoir once again, still surrounded by beautiful shady trees and lawns, with Lake Geneva and mountains in the distance was a joyful experience.



The house really does pay homage to Charlie Chaplin and his many films. There is so much to see, explore and to discover about Charlie Chaplin. And the new specially built area where we walk into Chaplin’s life, is quite surreal. A mix of reality, moving images, lifelike waxworks, movie sets, interactive displays, scenes from his greatest films brought to life just as Yves Durand and the family had dreamed of and hoped to achieve.

The newest exhibition, The Kid is a tribute to the 1921 silent movie, The Kid featuring child star Jackie Coogan. It’s a tribute to Chaplin’s first feature-length work as a director as well as writer and actor. But additionally, and importantly, it reflects Charlie Chaplin’s own life journey from a child struggling to survive in the London slums to achieving worldwide fame and fortune.

It’s a very personal journey where we learn about his parents, his mother’s mental health problems, resulting in Charlie and his brother Sydney having to go into the workhouse and shelters. We learn of the bond between Chaplin and Jackie Coogan. And we also hear about Charlie Chaplin, the father – told through the eyes and words of his own children.



Talking to Yves Durand and Eugene Chaplin, it was lovely to hear how Yves praised his team members and the family for all the work they had put into the exhibition. Modestly he added, “I have done my best. I have tried to do something that is respectful of his life and childhood, not just a show but to talk about his real, full life. I’m hoping that people will like it and find it interesting.”

Talking about the fact that the world-famous Charlie Chaplin was his father, Eugene simply said, “You grew up with it. It was only when you realized you were getting special treatment that you started to realise your dad was someone special. But for me, he was just my dad. We lived a normal life and he loved living her.



“The museum is what the family wanted and what we planned for. For it to happen is a thrill. My father would have been thrilled – he was that kind of person. He had a fear of being forgotten. He wanted future generations and people of all ages to see his films, enjoy them and appreciate them.”

To sum up, Eugene talked of someone recognizing him as Charlie Chaplin’s son whilst in the nearby town of Lausanne. “This person came up to me and said, I want to present to you the biggest fan of your father, Charlie Chaplin…. It was a six-year-old little boy!”

Discover Chaplin’s World and the new temporary exhibition, The Kid: https://www.chaplinsworld.com/