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Why an Elvis Presley poster has been in the window of an abandoned Canterbury house for 42 years


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When 14-year-old Corrinne Mills put a poster of Elvis Presley in her bedroom window, she had no idea it would become a treasured landmark.

Over the past 42 years, tens of thousands of people have looked up at the King on the corner of St Peter's Place, Canterbury.

The tattered and torn 'Elvis in the window'
The tattered and torn 'Elvis in the window'

And to this day, they just can't help falling in love with the tattered and torn "Elvis in the window". One enthusiast has even called for it to be honoured with a blue plaque.

But now residents are all shook up as the city council ponders "a variety of options" for the abandoned building.

Corinne fondly remembers moving into the house in August 1977 with mum Dorothy, dad Harry and youngster sister Annette.

Mr Mills was the foreman of Westgate Gardens and head gardener for parks across the district.

And with the job came the "tied cottage" at 31A St Peter's Place.

Corrinne Mills (bottom right) with brothers and sisters (L2R) Peter, John, Linda, and Annette (Picture: Peter Mills)
Corrinne Mills (bottom right) with brothers and sisters (L2R) Peter, John, Linda, and Annette (Picture: Peter Mills)

Corrinne had caught the Elvis bug off her older brother Peter and been a fan since the age of 10.

The rock and roll legend died on August 16, 1977. His final single Way Down stayed at number one for five weeks.

But when Corrinne put the 3D poster in her bedroom window she didn't attach too much significance to it.

"It was the 1970s," she says. "People had posters all over their walls."

The former Archbishop's School pupil spent many happy years at the quirky house.

Corrinne's mum and dad, Dorothy and Harry Mills (Picture: Peter Mills)
Corrinne's mum and dad, Dorothy and Harry Mills (Picture: Peter Mills)

"It isn't as big as it looks," she says.

"The bathroom is in the kitchen under the stairs, there's only one room downstairs and the toilet's out the back door."

Four years ago she had to give up her job as a veterinary nurse to care for her mum.

Dorothy suffered with dementia and sadly died last year, leaving just Corinne in the council-owned three-bedroom house.

Then in March, Corrinne had to downsize - and the now boarded-up building has stood eerily empty ever since, aside from the iconic Elvis poster.

Corrinne and mum Dorothy (Picture: Peter Mills)
Corrinne and mum Dorothy (Picture: Peter Mills)

"I had to move out in such a hurry that I left it," says Corrinne.

She didn't make any special efforts to retrieve the picture, as "it's always been up there to help people with directions".

Corrinne, now 56, moved to a "tiny bungalow" in Whitehall Close, just behind her old house.

She's still a big fan of the hip-shaking superstar but hasn't yet had a chance to unpack her favourite records and cassettes.

Corrinne is unsure what the future holds for her old home, which has become a hot topic among residents on the "Canterbury Remembering it as it was" Facebook page.

The Elvis at 31A St Peter's Place is a familiar sight for residents of St Mildreds Court opposite
The Elvis at 31A St Peter's Place is a familiar sight for residents of St Mildreds Court opposite
The house - and Elvis poster - pictured on Google Street View in 2009
The house - and Elvis poster - pictured on Google Street View in 2009

Those with suspicious minds fear it may be demolished.

And council bosses admit it would be costly to refurbish the derelict property.

When KentOnline paid a visit last week, ugly tags had been sprayed on the front and the overgrown back garden was strewn with rubbish.

One neighbour told us some homeless people were living behind the house, although there was no-one to be found when we investigated.

City council spokesman Rob Davies said: "This property, which is owned by the council, is very dated and needs extensive modernisation and refurbishment.

Rubbish has been strewn in the overgrown garden behind the abandoned property
Rubbish has been strewn in the overgrown garden behind the abandoned property

"It is on a large plot of land and there are various physical and legal constraints.

"Any refurbishment would be a difficult and expensive project and would have to be paid for from our dedicated housing budget.

"We are therefore looking at a variety of options for the future of the site, in order to achieve the best use of the property and good value for the public."

Whatever happens, the house and the poster still hold a special place in Corrinne's heart.

"When I take the dog for a walk at night I walk past it," she adds. "Everyone else can still enjoy it."

The King on the corner of St Peter's Place
The King on the corner of St Peter's Place

For now, at least, Elvis still hasn't left the building. Long live the King.

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury.

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