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The Museum

 

 

Freda Kempton

 

 

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Freda Kempton 1922.

Freda Irene Kempton of Flat 3, 121 Westbourne Grove, Paddington, was a dancer in the burgeoning nighttime economy of post war London. The aftermath of the Great War created a society caught in a paradox of never wanting to forget the lives lost and the horrors endured, whilst at the same time desperately seeking oppotunities to rebuild and move on. For many, the vibrancy of London's nightclubs, with their jazz age rhythms, provided the escapism they sought. In the midst of the affluent pleasure seekers were the scores of dancers, charged with the responsibility of keeping the dance floor swinging and the guests weaving a path back and forth to the bar for cocktails.

 

 

 

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The following account from the Glasgow Herald, April 25th 1922, describes the inquest into the death of Freda Kempton, quoting the cross examination of 'Brilliant' Chang, the restauranteur who was linked to the dancer in the days preceding her death.

Right, Billy 'Brilliant' Chang.

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Right, Billy 'Brilliant' Chang as he appeared some years later after his evential deportation to Hong Kong

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Flat 3, 121 Westbourne Grove, the property on the left of the photograph as it is today. Freda Kempton lived at this address with her landlady Sadie Heckle. It was at this address that Freda died in the arms of her landlady, having overdosed on cocaine. Sadie's daughter described finding a letter written by Freda shortly before she died. The alleged letter described Freda's intention to commit suicide, though the daughter destroyed the evidence in the fireplace at the property. It maybe that the suicide note was concocted by the landlady's family as an anxious reaction to the tragedy befalling their home that day.

Perhaps Freda Kempton's recent involvement at the inquest of her friend's suicide influenced the reaction of her landlady's family to her death.

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As reported in the Daily Mail on January 19th 1922 (left top center), Freda Kempton's friend, Audrey Knowles died from gas inhalation having placed her head inside the kitchen oven at her flat.Audrey lived at 10 Sussex Place in Kensington and was aged 24 at the time of her death.

The magnified inset below describes the tragic case, the inquest for which was presided over by Coroner HR Oswald

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Kensal Green Cemetery, Garden of Rememberance.

Freda Kempton was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery in common grave number 47380, square 198 at 9.30 am on Saturday 11th March 1922. She was aged twenty-one. The grave has since been covered over to make way for a garden of rememberance.

To visit the Kensal Green Cemetery website, please click on the image to the left.

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