The Lion Man of Chelsea, Farewell: A socialite bought a big cat at Harrods in 1960s. She famously took it to West London and walked around it. After that she released it in Kenya. He died aged 76.

  • John Rendall (Chelsea-based socialite) and Anthony ‘Ace ‘Bourke, his friend bought Harrods’ lion cub.
  • Christian became a familiar sight at Chelsea when he was taken along King’s Road for walks by the conservationist. 
  • After being rescued from Mr Rendall’s furniture shop, Sophisticat, Lion was eventually released back into the wild in Kenya. 
  • But lion recognised his old master and bounded up to him for hug when he visited in an extraordinary video 


John Rendall was a famous socialite. He bought Harrods’ lions from the pet section in 1960s. Christian called him Christian, and then took it with him on walks through London.

He and Anthony Ace Bourke (from Chelsea) bought a lion cub at Knightsbridge’s exclusive department shop. This store traded in exotic animals.

Christian was a regular sight in Chelsea as he was taken for walks along King’s Road by the conservationist – with Mr Rendall and Mr Bourke both also seen driving the big cat around in their Mercedes cabriolet.

Christian, who cost 250 guineas to buy, had steak dinner and was then taken to glamorous parties. However, Christian later returned to Kenyan wild after being rescued by Mr Rendall’s furniture retailer, Sophisticat.

After his death, Mr Rendall was a committed conservationist. His extraordinary video showing the lion recognising and hugging his master has been viewed 14 million times on YouTube. 

Anthony 'Ace' Bourke (left) and John Rendall (right) with Christian the lion who they brought up in Chelsea in the 1960s

Anthony “Ace” Bourke (left), and John Rendall, (right), with Christian the Lion they brought up together in Chelsea in 1960s.

Christian was a regular sight in Chelsea with Mr Bourke (left) and Mr Rendall (right) seen driving him around in their Mercedes

Christian, Mr Bourke (left), and Mr Rendall were seen taking him in their Mercedes around Chelsea.

Mr Rendall (left) and Mr Bourke (right) with Christian the lion at Mr Rendall¿s furniture store, Sophisticat, in London

Mr Rendall (left) and Mr Bourke (right) with Christian the lion at Mr Rendall’s furniture store, Sophisticat, in London

Christian the lion recognised his old master in Kenya and bounded up to him for a hug when they were reunited in 1971

Christian, the lion recognized his Kenyan master and ran up to him in a hug after they were reunited.

Maximillian Rendall’s distraught child Melanie, a magician and his spouse of ten years, discovered Mr Rendall dead in his office on Sunday.

According to Ms. Brewer, Ladette To Lady’s etiquette advisor, “The reason that I married John” (and was also on my sixth fiancé) was due to the amazing relationship John had with animals.

“I was certain he’d be a great father. Tallulah is a lot like John.

Two sons were born to Mr Rendall and Melanie. Ms Brewer stated that the sons of Tallulah and his second marriage had lost their fathers so young.

She said, “We had such an amazing relationship with him. Christian has changed our lives.

Christian tackles John during a game of football at Moravian Close in Chelsea - a picture that won a World Press Award in 1970

Christian tackles John while playing football at Moravian Close. The picture was a winner of a World Press Award for 1970.

Christian was fed steak and taken to restaurants and glamorous parties and was a regular sight on the streets of Chelsea

Christian was regularly seen walking the streets of Chelsea, being fed steaks and taking him to fancy restaurants.

Christian was often taken for walks along King's Road - and is pictured here with Mr Rendall (left) and Mr Bourke (right)

Christian used to be taken on walks down King’s Road by Mr Rendall (left), and Mr Bourke, (right).

Mr Rendall had a decade-long marriage with TV personality Liz Brewer. They are pictured together in January 1987

Rendall was married to Liz Brewer for 10 years. In January 1987, they are shown together.