The dwarf who was larger than life

rouser 2013
rouser 2013

Tiny Jackie Lambert hailed from Crowborough. His claim to fame was that he was the shortest man ever to be born in the south of England.

He was just 2ft 10ins tall when fully grown and weighed only twenty-seven pounds.

He would tell people that he was the shortest man in the world but this was not strictly true.

When his parents died during World War One, he moved in with his brother Harry and his wife at Guildford Lodge, Eridge Road, close to The Cross. He was 20 years old at this time and the height and weight of an average two year old.

He loved to frequent the local pubs, especially the Red Cross Inn,

about 100 yards from his door. He was never known to pay for his own beer, but was frequently drunk!

The local lads and intrigued visitors would happily fund his drinking to see him ‘happy’! He seemed to be treated, in more ways than one, as the village mascot, and the local folk were very proud of him.

One of his closest friends, Mr F J Markwick, a member of a respected local family of long standing, fitted a special saddle to the crossbar of his bicycle so that he could give Jackie rides around the countryside, and visit neighbouring towns.

He was always smartly dressed, mainly due to the efforts of Tom and Arthur Bradley, who were brothers, and great friends of Jackie.

Tom had a tailoring business at 3 London Road and Arthur was the manager of of Rice Brothers Saddlers, who made all of Jackie’s boots,

gaiters and swaggersticks, and Tom made all of his clothes.

These included riding jackets and breeches, naval officers’ uniforms and many other striking sets of clothing, in any of which he loved to strut about Crowborough, especially if there were plenty of visitors to admire him, and to buy picture postcards, many depicting him in naval uniform and smoking a large looking manly cigarette, so that he could not be mistaken for a child.

He had an ego that was larger than life, and was something of an extrovert who loved to be the centre of attention.

He was always the joker, and would wager any visitor, who happened to be visiting the pub, that he could do something that they, so large strong and normal sized, could not do.

And when his wager was inevitably accepted, he would take off his hat and walk perfectly upright under the nearest table. An excellent way of earning his beer! Jackie died in May, 1936, a month short of his 38th birthday. At his funeral it is reported that the whole village, as it was then, came to a halt while black- plumed horses drew the ancient glass-sided hearse around the streets, and finally to his resting place.