Saturday, 22 October 2011

Christian: The Lion who lived in the World’s End!

This is not the first time I’m writing about the amazing little area in London, with the unforgettable name, the 'World’s End'. What you’ve never heard of it?! Even though this tiny quarter is sometimes called the wrong end of Kings Road, its heart is in the right place. The World’s End has more than earned its place in history, after all this was the place where the Rolling Stones and the Sex Pistols started their global impact! However this story is not about rock, punk or fashion; nor is it about our local football team, Chelsea (who else!); this story is about another famous World’s Ender, a lion called Christian!

Christian with Ace & John
In late 1969 two Australians, Ace Bourke and John Rendall, came across two lion cubs in a zoo then situated in the world famous upmarket store ‘Harrods’, (a zoo in Harrods?), they were so taken in by the friendly male cub that they wanted to take him home, and Harrods agreed! The two Australians took the lion back to their furniture shop in the World’s End, and gave him the name Christian. 

Christian soon became a popular sight in the World’s End, and could often be seen lying in the shop window. Can you imagine the faces of the passers by;… “I just saw a lion walking in the World’s End, Mabel!”,… “I’m warning you George, lay off the LSD!”  John Rendall was asked if they ever thought about the danger to themselves and the public, he replied that they had put faith into the fact that lions are not solitary beasts, but lives in groups and have a friendly nature, adding, "If you have a lion by itself in any circumstances it is going to look for friends. And if there are no other lions it will create a friendship with human beings". However, he also added that a lot of youthful viridity had a hand in the adventure. Happy to say that nothing more damaging than a couple of broken vases occurred in the year Christian stayed with the lads.

2 World's Enders Playing
 It is not a surprise that pretty soon the lion was outgrowing the apartment and new arrangements needed to be made. That is when actors Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna came to the rescue. The actors had just finished filming Born Free”, the story of a lioness who was put back into the wild by wildlife conservationists George and Joy Adamson. With Bill and Virginia’s help the young Australians contacted George Adamson and ended up taking  Christian to Kenya, where he was released into the wild. 

The story doesn’t end there. A year later Ace and John returned to Kenya to visit there mate Christian, and what happened was a most amazing and touching occurrence, the lion, now leader of his own pride, recognised them and was as playful as ever!

Today, Ace Bourke is a museum curator in Australia. John Rendall is a trustee of the George Adamson Wildlife Trust, an organization actively involved in preserving African wildlife. The organization, according to Rendall, is part of Christian's legacy

I like to think that right now there are lions prowling the Kenyan bush who are descendants of Christian, the Lion from the World’s End- Chelsea.


  1. This gives the term "Out of Africa" a complete new meaning :)