The Bale family, the Royal Zanettos, the Yokohama Troupe, the Chapmans, the Poluskis, the Bale Troupe, circus connections, Korosko Bale, Professor Bale, the Beautiful Jessica, the 3 Gamons ....
I was discovering so much about my family that I decided to create this website after being contacted by some previously unknown cousins doing their own research on internet.
I'm the daughter of Winifred, Pip & Lilian Bale's second daughter born in 1915. Lilian spent her last years in our home in Littlehampton (Sussex) where she passed away in 1974. She would tell me fascinating stories about her life (see pages "Lilian Chapman" and "Chaplin: Lilian's memories") and answer all my questions.
After my mother died in 1998, I found dozens of old photos and documents she'd inherited from Lilian.
What makes Lilian's treasures even more interesting for me is the fact that Pip was one of the very early amateur photographers, and many of the photos were taken by him. Some even have his signature on the front, and in others he is holding a remote switch (which I originally thought was a cigar, as he loved his Havanas!).
Stories I'd heard as a child and teenager were confirmed by these, and also by details shared with me by newly discovered relations. And on internet, there were passenger lists, birth & death records, the census ... so much information!
Many e-mails were exchanged, it was getting more and more complicated. For me, it's really important not to keep all the photos and documents filed away, and so far, this website seems to be the best way for them to be shared.
Within just a few months, it had already allowed someone from a different family (Leamore) to better understand her own story that is linked to ours ... and that alone makes all the hard work worthwhile!
Many photos reflect the lifestyle of music hall artistes around the turn of the 20th century. And some of those of the family are wonderful illustrations of that period.
I will continue to add regularly, because it is a project that will take many more months to complete.
Meanwhile, all comments, suggestions and contributions will be greatly appreciated!
("Koszuta" is my maiden name, my father was Polish. When Poland was invaded in 1939, he escaped to England where he joined other members of the Polish Air Force, married my mother, and stayed on after the war. I am married to a Frenchman from Brittany, Gérard Bétrom, and we live in France.)
May 2012 update: Most of the information I have added just recently concerns George Bale's daughter Jessica, whose mother was "The Beautiful Jessica" and who named one of her own daughters Jessica! So for easy reference on this website, I refer to George's wife as Jessica, to their daughter as Jessie, and to Jessie & Carmelo's daughter as Jessica Georgina.