John Rendall talks about bringing a lion cub to live in Chelsea in 1969 and why he still loves the area today.
How long have you been here?
I came to Chelsea by accident in 1969, as the sister of a university friend happened to be living in Beaufort Street.
It was all happening on the King’s Road with Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, Mary Quant and Granny Takes a Trip, who were making clothes for the Stones and Eric Clapton.
You saw them all walking around Chelsea.
I got a job in Sophisto-Cat, selling antique pine furniture, which was then very fashionable.
What was the reaction when you brought Christian the lion cub home from Harrods?
In the Sixties and Seventies there wasn’t all this red tape. So to have a lion was not totally an extraordinary thing.
A couple of chaps had a puma in Battersea. We didn’t even need to have a licence.
What is your favourite charity?
The George Adamson Trust, which we founded in 1989 when George was murdered at Kora National Park in Kenya.
It’s where my lion was rehabilitated.
We support 11 schools down there because education is very much part of wildlife protection.
(The lion was eventually released into the wild in Kenya and became the head of a wild pride.
But, when John went looking for him in the bush 10 years later, the lion clearly recognised him and rushed up to hug him.)
What is your favourite …
The book – A Lion Called Christian – is on sale at Love My Human, (308 King’s Road) near Timothy Oulton’s wonderful shop.
Place to eat?
I go to Chelsea Arts Club frequently. La Famiglia, of course, is great, and Medlar is excellent, as is Bluebird.
I bought a flat at the World’s End Estate 18 years ago.
The concept was for it to be like a village with 750 flats, river views, a school, two playgrounds, a church, youth club and a community centre with a theatre.
The theatre building itself needed a lot of upgrading and it’s taken just over a year to refurbish.
It’s a very exciting project and will be fully functioning in the new year. It really is open for everyone.
Lawrence of Arabia, and Dances with Wolves with Kevin Costner is great too.
When we sold the film rights [to A Lion Called Christian] he was interested in playing [conservationist] George Adamson.
I have an extensive African library, and like everyone’s it starts with Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa.