In Focus Tour: Philip Astley

Celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of circus in London by Philip Astley (1742-1814)

+44 (0)20 7942 2000
  • Meeting Point, Grand Entrance, South Kensington

  • Free event

V&A Curator Cathy Haill will talk about the intrepid Astley and his development of circus, in this insightful, drop-in tour. Philip Astley was a born in Newcastle under Lyme, and worked with his father learning cabinet making and veneer cutting before enrolling in the army as a 17-year old, serving in the Seven Years’ War, and developing his extraordinary skill as a trick rider.

Retired from the cavalry as a sergeant major at the startlingly young age of 26, Philip Astley went on to open his first riding school and amphitheatre in a roped off plot of land called Halfpenny Hatch on London’s South Bank. The additions he made to his entertainment there showing off his riding skills led to his extraordinary success and the birth of a new type of entertainment that went global!