Philip Astley

Philip Astley

Birth
Newcastle-under-Lyme, Newcastle-Under-Lyme Borough, Staffordshire, England
Death 27 Jan 1814 (aged 72)
Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Burial Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France
Memorial ID 100531794 · View Source
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Philip Astley was an English equestrian, circus owner, and inventor, regarded as being the "father of the modern circus". The circus industry, as a presenter of an integrated entertainment experience that includes music, domesticated animals, acrobats, and clowns, traces its heritage to Astley's Amphitheatre, a riding school that Astley founded in London following the success of his invention of the circus ring in 1768. Philip Astley was born in Newcastle-under-Lyme in England the son of a cabinetmaker. At the age of nine, he apprenticed with his father, but Astley's dream was to work with horses, so he joined Colonel Eliott's Fifteenth Light Dragoons when he was 17, later becoming a Sergeant Major. His service in the Seven Years' War brought him into contact with professional trainers and riders. Astley himself was a brilliant rider. Astley had a genius for trick riding. He saw that trick riders received more attention from the crowds in Islington. He had an idea for opening a riding school in London in which he could also conduct shows of acrobatic riding skill. Astley began to make a reputation and to grow wealthier. His invention of the circular arena was successful. Astley married around 1766. In 1769, his wife gave birth to a son, John Philip Conway Astley (1767-1821). Astley's circus was so popular that he was invited in 1772 to perform before Louis XV of France in Versailles. In 1782, Astley established the first purpose-built circus in France, the Amphitheatre Anglais in Paris. During the summers and other times when his London establishment was inactive, Astley established wooden amphitheaters throughout Great Britain; the first of these was erected in 1773 in Dublin, Ireland. He later established eighteen other circuses in European cities, was patronised by a great number of royals, and was famous, envied, and occasionally rich. He never used wild animals in the circus arena. They began to be displayed 14 years after his death in Paris. He was buried in Paris' Père Lachaise Cemetery, having expired from gout in the stomach.


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Debra Polly
  • Added: 11 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 100531794
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Philip Astley (8 Jan 1742–27 Jan 1814), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100531794, citing Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris, City of Paris, Île-de-France, France ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .