Apr 042016


NPG D9009; Philip Astley after Unknown artist248 years ago today, my hero Philip Astley opened the first circus premises in a field at Halfpenny Hatch in Lambeth. Within months this amazing ex-Army equestrian was  pulling in the crowds – and the money. His story, of how he introduced a mass-appeal show which crossed all social boundaries and which appealed to young and old alike,  is told in my book “Astley’s Circus – the story of an English Hussar”. It is a story of dogged determination, extraordinary showmanship – and not a wild animal in sight!

In two years time it will be the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of this important event – and I look forward to seeing what can be done to promote the occasion. I am including a talk about Astley in the group of talks on life in the 18th century which I will be giving on board Fred. Olsen’s “Boudicca” later this year, and he is the subject of a number of other talks I will be giving next year.

Circus book coverLast week it was the turn  of the Club for Acts and Actors (who have a particular interest in the origins of the British Music Hall) – so, let’s hear it for Philip Astley, entrepreneur, entertainer and equestrian. A great man…


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