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Sanger, George, 1825 - 1911

 Person

Biography

George was born in Newbury, a historic market town in Berkshire in 1825 and grew up on the fairground working in the family’s peep show. In 1848 George and his brother John bought some canaries and mice and trained them for exhibition. This humble beginning into animal performance within the fairground scene and their business ambition, built up to the formation of the Sanger's Allied Circus in 1854 at the King’s Lynn Charter Fair, which they operated with a few family members and friends. By 1858 Sanger’s circus boasted of presenting the largest stud of horses ever seen in the European continent and visited over two hundred towns in a nine-month season, giving two shows a day. By the 1860s the Sanger emporium owned ten permanent circuses between Plymouth and Aberdeen.

One of the brothers’ popular shows was the pantomime ‘Lady Godiva’ featuring a well-known equestrienne, Ellen Chapman (1831-1899).

George and Ellen married in 1850 in Sheffield and Ellen immediately became a key act on the family shows. She appeared in pantomimes, performing the serpentine dance in the lions' den and impersonating 'Brittannia' in the acclaimed Sanger's circus processions.

George and Ellen had three children; a son who died as a baby, Laurina (1853-1882) and Sarah Harriet (1854-1929).

In 1856, when George and John added wild animals to their circus, Ellen returned to her former profession as a lion tamer. By 1858 they had added six lions and ten elephants to the show which proved to be a big winner with the public.

The Sanger brother’s expansion into circus greatness continued with the acquisition of two of the most famous and reputable circus venues in London; the Royal Agricultural Hall at Islington in 1870 and Astley’s New Royal Amphitheatre in 1871, which they bought from William Batty’s widow.

By this point Sanger's Circus travelling road train was said to be two miles long and reputedly had around ten wagons to carry the tent and seating, a lamp wagon, eight or ten living carriages, a foal wagon, ten wild animal wagons, a harness wagon, a portable blacksmith's forge, property wagons, wardrobe and dressing wagons, a band carriage and at least six great tableau parade cars.

From 1874 Sanger also presented tenting shows on the Continent for fifteen seasons, travelling up to 160 horses, eleven elephants, a dozen camels and about 330 staff.

George and John eventually decided to go their separate ways and split their various business ventures amicably.

During his extensive and impressive career as a circus proprietor George Sanger presented two Royal performances before Queen Victoria, the first at Sandringham on 8 January 1885 and the second at Balmoral Castle on 17 June 1898.

George Sanger was a respected member of the showland community and although he spent most of his later life in the circus, he maintained a strong link to his fairground roots and was elected the first President of the Showmen's Guild of Great Britain in 1890, a post he held until 1909.

George Sanger was murdered on 28 November 1911, at Park Farm by one of his employees for unknown reasons. His circus and effects were auctioned off by showman Tom Norman aka ‘The Silver King’.

Found in 69 Collections and/or Records:

Articles and Monographs, c1880 - 1899

 Series
Reference code: 178B39
Scope and Contents

Script for Cinderella and Life of George Sanger booklets.

Dates: c1880 - 1899

Catalogues of Sale, 1905 - 1912

 Series
Reference code: 178J11
Scope and Contents

Catalogues for the sale of George Sanger's equiptment and animals.

Dates: 1905 - 1912

Circus Friends Association Collection

 Fonds
Reference code: NFA0122
Scope and Contents

This collection consists of a large library of books and journals, as well as archival material including posters, programmes, photographs, films, handbills, research material, scrapbooks, original artwork and many other items of ephemera relating to British, Irish and European circuses

Dates: 1795 - 2020

Correspondence, 1873 - 1888

 Series
Reference code: 178F37
Scope and Contents

Business and personal correspondence related to George Sanger.

Dates: 1873 - 1888

Correspondence, c1900 - 2008

 Series
Reference code: 178F20
Scope and Contents

Items of personal correspondence and correspondence related to the Sanger and Ohmy families.

Dates: c1900 - 2008

Cyril Critchlow Collection

 Fonds
Reference code: NFA0089
Scope and Contents The Cyril Critchlow collection contains programmes, posters, handbills, books and magic journals, many of which relate to shows in Blackpool where Cyril resided and includes material on entertainment venues such as Blackpool’s North Pier, Central Pier, South Pier, Tower Circus and a small collection of programmes from other national venues. Additionally, it contains circus photographs and postcards mainly of the Ohmy Circus and Sanger Circus including individual circus troupes and performers...
Dates: c1837 - 2008

Freehold Properties and Building Land Booklet, 26 August 1907

 Item
Reference code: 178Z54.3
Scope and Contents

Particulars, plans and conditions of sale of the estate of the late Thomas Dalby Reeve, Margate. Sale by auction by Messrs Crockett & Henderson. Black type on brown paper on cover, inside black type on white paper and coloured plans of the properties for sale, 11p.p.

Dates: 26 August 1907

George Sanger Circus Performers Photographs, c1850 - 1910

 File
Reference code: 178C114.157-178
Scope and Contents

Black and white photographs showing George Sanger Circus, performers and staff, living wagons, street parades and circus tents.

Dates: c1850 - 1910

George Sanger Circus Photographs, c1850 - 1945

 File
Reference code: 178C114.182-188
Scope and Contents

Black and white photographs of George Sanger's Circus, including a head and shoulders framed portrait of George Sanger.

Dates: c1850 - 1945

George Sanger Circus Scrapbook, c1865

 Item
Reference code: 178G51.2
Scope and Contents

Scrapbook containing newspaper cuttings about George Sanger's Circus, some pages are empty, 31p.p.

Dates: c1865

George Sanger's Obituary, 2 December 1911

 Item
Reference code: 178Q31.1
Scope and Contents

In Memoriam, tragic Death of George Sanger. Obituary from The Era. Black type on white paper with black border and black and white head and shoulders portrait of George Sanger in the centre, contains a prayer by Thomas Horne, 1p.

Dates: 2 December 1911

George Sanger's Obituary, 2 December 1911

 Item
Reference code: 178Q31.2
Scope and Contents

In Memoriam, tragic Death of George Sanger. Obituary from The Era. Black type on white paper with black border and black and white head and shoulders portrait of George Sanger in the centre, contains a prayer by Thomas Horne, 1p.

Dates: 2 December 1911

Grand Annual Christmas Pantomime Script, c1800 - 1899

 Item
Reference code: 178Z54.2
Scope and Contents George Sanger's Grand National Amphitheatre, late Astley's, Westminster Bridge Road. 16th Annual Grand Comic Christmas Pantomime entitled Robison Crusoe or Harlequin Man Friday and the King of the Cannibal Islands, starring Miss Bella Brian, Miss Annie Craston, Miss Alice Rees, Mr H. Bu Val, Miss Marie Brian, Miss Ellen Sanders, Mr J. F. Brian, Mr James Holloway, Mr Harris, Mr Harry Elliston, Mr Fred Stone, Mr William Walton, Miss Lillie Woods, Collins & Anderson, Mr E. O'Grady, Mr J....
Dates: c1800 - 1899

Grand Hall by the Sea, Italian & Zoological Gardens Programme, 10 September 1885

 Item
Reference code: 178K45.2
Scope and Contents Black type on pink paper, portrait in a circle with foliage decorations on top section of front cove and decorative border, programme inside, 2p.p. Printed by Keble's Gazette Office, Margate. Acts listed; Margate, 11th Annual Benefit of W. Tubbs & Gus Foster, Albert & Frederica, William Ethairen, balancing act, G. Ethairen, clown, Miss Violet D'Alroy, comedy act, Mr J. B. Martin, singing act, Mr Albert Steele, singing act, Miss Bessie Armytage, singing act, The Ethairen Troupe, Mr...
Dates: 10 September 1885

Grand Hall by the Sea, Italian & Zoological Gardens Programme, c1875 - 1919

 Item
Reference code: 178K45.6
Scope and Contents

Margate, black type on yellow paper, advertisement for The Clifton Baths on reverse. Acts listed; Mr Harry de Brannar, singing act,Mdlles. Cora and Nora, singing act, Mr Arthur H. Alexander, singing act, The Kaspers.

Dates: c1875 - 1919

Grand Hall by the Sea, Italian & Zoological Gardens Programme, c1875 - 1919

 Item
Reference code: 178K45.7
Scope and Contents

Margate, black type on yellow paper. Acts listed; Will Oliver, singing act, Miss Julia Rosenburg, singing act, Mr Charles Woodman, vocal and instrumental act, Valdi, tumbling act, Avolina, horizontal bar act.

Dates: c1875 - 1919

Grand Hall by the Sea, Italian & Zoological Gardens Programme, c1875 - 1919

 Item
Reference code: 178K45.8
Scope and Contents

Margate, black type on green paper. Acts Listed; Will Oliver, singing act, Miss Julia Rosenburg, singing act, Mr Charles Woodman, vocal and instrumental act, Valdi, tumbling act, Avolina, horizontal bar act.

Dates: c1875 - 1919

Grand Hall by the Sea, Italian & Zoological Gardens Programme, c1875 - 1919

 Item
Reference code: 178K45.9
Scope and Contents

Margate, black type on green paper and advertisement for The Clifton Baths on reverse. Acts listed; Madlle Elise Worth, singing act, The Etharian Troupe, Mr Edgar Wilson, singing act, Elliott, Huda and Berto, singing and dancing act, Miss Hettie Keble, dancing act.

Dates: c1875 - 1919

Grand Hall by the Sea, Italian & Zoological Gardens Programme, c1875 - 1919

 Item
Reference code: 178K45.10
Scope and Contents

Margate, black type on yellow paper and advertisement for The Clifton Baths on reverse. Acts listed; Mr Harry Braham, singing act, Miss Marie Guinard, singing act, Miss Lottie Dettmar, singing act, Le Fre Trio, presenting Jargo the Giraffe.

Dates: c1875 - 1919

Grand Hall by the Sea, Italian & Zoological Gardens Programme, c1875 - 1919

 Item
Reference code: 178K45.11
Scope and Contents

Margate, black type on yellow paper and advertisement for The Clifton Baths on reverse. Acts listed; Mr Harry de Brennar, singing act, Miss Lilly Ernest, singing act, The Etharian Troupe, Madlle. Elise Worth, singing act, Mr Edgar wilson, singing act, Miss Hettie Keble, dancing act, Mr Edgar Granville, singing act, The Great little Sandy, performing donkey, Elliott, Huda and Berto.

Dates: c1875 - 1919