Home   What's On   News   Article

Hammer horror star honoured

Peter Cushing
Peter Cushing

Peter Cushing, famous for his Hammer horror movie roles, was a familiar face in Whitstable, where he lived for 30 years. He died in 1994, but it would have been his 100th birthday this year, and to mark the occasion an exhibition celebrating his life has opened. Lauren Fruen reports.

Peter Cushing was one of Whitstable’s most famous and favourite characters.

The actor, who starred in 91 films, is perhaps best known for his portrayal of vampire hunter Van Helsing in the Hammer horror films, but was also an early Dr Who and later appeared in Star Wars.

He lived in the seaside town for 30 years, often frequenting the Tudor Tea Rooms in Harbour Street, and after his death in 1994, Cushing’s View, overlooking the beach, was named in his memory.

Joyce Broughton who has been helping with the Peter Cushing exhibition at Whitstable Museum
Joyce Broughton who has been helping with the Peter Cushing exhibition at Whitstable Museum

It would have been his 100th birthday this year and a new display featuring many previously unseen exhibits has opened in the town. His former secretary and close friend Joyce Broughton, 79, says it is events like this which help to keep his memory alive. She was the actor’s secretary for 35 years and helped the town’s museum and gallery curator Manda Gifford with the exhibition.

Joyce said: “Peter was a very gentle man, just lovely. I still miss him terribly. But by doing this I feel he is back amongst us and it means everyone can enjoy all the things he did. I always felt privileged to work for him. He really became one of the family. I do all of this to try and keep his name alive.”

When Cushing’s wife died Joyce became a good friend and her eldest child was his goddaughter.

Joyce said: “I had never seen one of his films when I started working for him. I did not like the genre. But he was more than my boss and we had a great friendship. When his wife died I became what I called his ‘odds and sods’ girl. I did most things for him. I used to have famous actors to dinner at my home and my children called him uncle.”

Visitors to the exhibition will be see new memorabilia, including film posters, personal photos, letters of correspondence with Hollywood stars and some of Cushing’s paintings which haven’t been seen before. There will also be an audio recording by Joyce, who will be talking about the actor and some of the exhibits.

Peter Cushing
Peter Cushing

Curator Manda Gifford said: “Obviously he was a very famous film star and so we have sections about that but he was much more than that. The exhibition is made up of private collections. We have been given items from the States and from other parts of the UK. We even have the carpet slippers he wore while filming Star Wars.

“Joyce has been absolutely pivotal to this exhibition. Without her enthusiasm we could not have put it on.”

Peter Cushing at 100! will be at Whitstable Museum and Gallery until June 23. It is open 10am to 4pm every day. Admission is £3 for adults. Call 01227 276998.

Close This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.Learn More