250th anniversary of the modern circus, Staffordshire

April 2018

Throughout 2018

2018 marks the 250th anniversary of the invention of the modern circus ring by Philip Astley, born in Newcastle-under-Lyme. In 1768, Astley, himself an equestrian performer, brought together clowns, jugglers, tightrope walkers and musicians in one place for the first time, to form the first modern circus. His story isn’t well known – for now – but Astley, who was referenced by Dickens, Austen and Thackeray, is about to hog the limelight once again. A series of lectures, shows, exhibitions, talks and film screenings, culminating in a large-scale heritage learning event is set to raise his profile.

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