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Hengler, Charles, Snr., 1821 - 1887



  • Existence: 1821 - 28 September 1887


Frederick Charles Hengler was the son of Henry Michael Hengler and Jane Pilsworth.

Frederick Charles, commonly referred to as Charles, is regarded as the founder of Hengler’s Circus. From an early age he started to developed his circus skills and before becoming one of the most successful British circus impresario of his time, he became a multifaceted performer. Among his talents were equestrianism and horse training, musician, scenic artist, baggage-master and manager.

Charles first took charge of the Hengler Circus from his brother Edward, in 1846. Shortly after, Charles married Mary Ann Frances Sprake, niece of William Cooke, and went to work in the Cooke’s Circus, dissolving Henglers Circus in the process.

Charles re-formed Hengler's Circus in July 1847 in Stafford. He travelled the circus around the provinces during the summer season and presented specially erected buildings during the winter until 1886. Between 1863 and 1866, Charles opened permanent Hengler Circus buildings in Glasgow, Dublin, Hull, Birmingham and Bristol and by 1869 he was running two circuses simultaneously, in Glasgow and Liverpool. Two years later he opened the Grand Cirque Variete in London and in 1875 he presented the summer circus at Alexandra Park. A year before his dead, Charles gave a royal command performance at Windsor on 20 February.

Charles and Mary Ann had eleven children, Alfred Sprake (1851-1866), Frederick Charles junior (1855-1889), Albert Henry (1862-1937), Walter Burns (1864-1937), Jenny Louise (1849- ?).

Charles died on 28 September 1887 aged 66 years old.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Hengler's Grand Cirque Poster, 19 September 1877

Reference code: 178R47.23
Scope and Contents Brunswick Road, Liverpool. The Great Company of equestrians, gymnasts, vaulters, jugglers and leapers, Fillis Family, Mr. Hubert Cooke equestrian act, Mr. John Walker equestrian act, Mr. James Powell Junior equestrian act, Miss Louise Powell equestrian act, Mr. James H. Jee equestrian act, Mr. George Delevanti equestrian act, Miss. Jeesie Powell, Miss Virginia Jee, Mr. James Bridges, Miss Amy Samwell, Miss Lilly Jee, Mr. A. Bridges, Ferdinand August, Signorina Guiseppina Quaglieni equestrian...
Dates: 19 September 1877

Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian Circus Posters, c1800 - 1930

Reference code: 178R47.1-51
Scope and Contents

Early circus and menagerie posters including Polito's menagerie, Astley's Amphitheatre and Pablo Fanque's, Sanger's, Powell's, Ducrow's, Cooke's and Hengler's circuses among others.

Dates: c1800 - 1930