Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Manders Grand Star Menagerie

From the back cover:

"William Manders was described by Edwin Lawrence as "the greatest showman of his day". He was the proprietor of the Grand National Star Menagerie, but soon after his death in 1871 it was auctioned from the Agricultural Hall. Was the Mandernethecca the greatest show ever travelled? It is said to have cost over £3,000 and taken over fifteen months to build. Martini Maccomo, its most famous lion tamer, has become a legend in his own right. Over the years the history of Manders' Mammoth Menagerie has become blurred and confused.

"Manders' Menageries and Shows have attracted a great deal of interest over the years, and more recently several members of the family have corresponded via the internet, tracing various strands of the Manders family tree. This book is the result of that research and has been compiled by Kevin Scrivens and Stephen Smith."

Brass Admission 'ticket' 1906

Excerpt from The Fairgrounds Heritage Trust:

Away from London George Sanger in his book "Seventy years a showman" talks of a great battle fought in 1833 between employees of Wombwell and the menagerie of Hilton on the Oxford Road between Reading and Henley, as both shows raced between one fair and another. Sanger comments, "at this time Wombwell's and Hilton's were the two great menageries and involved in deadly rivalry."

Hilton eventually sold up to former employee William Manders.The owner of what became "Mander's Grand National Star Menagerie" was initially Hilton's spieler and legend has it he eventually bought out Hilton following a prolonged period of passing his hat around at the end of each performance, although E.H. Bostock is on record as saying Manders was also financed by a very wealthy Liverpool turtle merchant.

Although not having the provenance of the Bostock shows William Manders was, nevertheless, a proprietor of menageries from 1850 to 1871, eventually employing 60 people and touring in America.

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