Circus Sanger in United Kingdom

Circus Sanger
Sangers Circus animals including elephant drinking from the River Severn at the English Bridge, Shrewsbury
Sangers Circus animals including elephant drinking from the River Severn at the English Bridge, Shrewsbury

Local name Sanger's Ampitheatre, Sanger's Equestrian Troupe, Lord George Sanger Circus

Owner 1821-1889: John Sanger Sr.
1889: John Sanger Jr.
Closed down1962
Place Margate
Country United Kingdom


Key People -: James Sanger Jr. (assistant director)
1821-: Sarah Elliott (assistant director)
1821-1849: James Sanger (assistant director)
1848-: Elizabeth Atkins (assistant director)
1879-1955: Rebecca Sanger (assistant director)


Elephant department

Head keepers
of elephants
1888-1904: Herbert Taylor
(elephant trainer)

Elephant keepers -1903: Joseph Williams
Google map

Relevant literature

Circus Sanger, in Margate, United Kingdom , was founded in 1821. Circus Sanger closed down in 1962.

Comments / picturesCircus Sanger was founded 1821 by John Sanger (1816-1889) and his brother, "Lord" George Sanger (1827-1911). George later took over the circus, and renamed as "Lord" George Sanger Circus. The Sangers married into the Pinder, Coleman, Austin, Hoffman, Freeman and Ginnett families.

1816: John Sanger was born at Chew Magna, Somerset.
1827-12-23: George Sanger was born at Newbury,Berkshire.
1848: Sanger met Nellie Chapman, then performing with Wombwell\'s lions.
1850: George married Nellie.
1854: Georges son John Jr. was born about 1854 in Norfolk. (John married Rebecca Pinder, born in 1860. They had 11 children, including the oldest son Herbert and twins William Arthur and Olman Leslie, born ca 1899.)
l871: Sanger purchased Astley\'s amphitheatre and menagerie. Later, he ran circuses at Agricultural Hall, Islington, Birmingham, Liverpool, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Bath, Bristol, and Plymouth.
1889-08-22: John Sanger Sr. died while touring, at Ipswich.
1903: A Circus elephant handler died after he was stabbed in an argument with a man who was teasing his performing sheep in Hereford in 1903. William Watson was charged with the murder of Joseph Williams, an employee of Lord George Sanger\'s Circus in Hereford.
1905: Sanger disposed of his circus property, which became part of Howes Great London Circus, Hippodrome, and Sangers English Menagerie
1911-11-28: Sanger was shot dead by one of his employees.
Circus Sanger in United Kingdom United+Kingdom

1920: The year after the 1919 visit to Helensburgh, Sanger’s circus was the scene of a terrible fire while at Taunton in Somerset.
1924: Despite this awful tragedy, Sanger’s circus and menagerie was back in Helensburgh in 1924.
1928: Herbert Sanger died.
Circus Sanger in United Kingdom United+Kingdom
Photograph of Bert Sanger being held in the Trunk of Tiny the elephant. Herbert Sanger was the grandson of John Sanger, brother of ‘Lord’ George Sanger. Herbert’s father was ‘Lord’ John Sanger and his mother was Rebecca (née Pinder). The eldest son and one of eleven children, Bert went on to perform as Pimpo the clown in ‘Lord’ John Sanger’s Circus. He was the first clown known as Pimpo. Bert married Lillian Ohmy (Smith) in 1916. Bert joined the RAF in the First World War and was wounded on active service. In December 1918 he was in a military hospital in Etaples, in France. Bert is thought to have died in 1928.[5]
1929: Lord John died in 1929, but Sanger’s circus carried on until 1941.
1939: Lord John Sanger’s circus had four elephants at the start of the war: Ida, Annie, Tiny and Jennie.[6]
1941:Circus Proprietors have complained that meat rationing arrangements do not provide sufficient food for carnivorous animals like lions and tigers. The Government’s answer was to ban all dangerous animals from public performances, because they might break free during an air-raid. This was the last straw for the 140 year old Lord John Sanger’s Circus. The blackout, labour shortage, food rationing, and now the ban on performing animals means they can no longer continue. At an auction, Annie, their famous 50 year old elephant, was sold to Belle Vue Zoo, Manchester for 50 guineas; Alice, her 16 year old companion, went to rival Tom Fossett’s Circus for 90 guineas.

Afterwards, however, Sanger’s circus was able to regroup, and one of the star attractions was the clown ‘Pimpo’, real name James Freeman, who married Victoria Sanger.

The last of the Sanger dynasty was the English circus entertainer Victoria Sanger Freeman (28 September 1895 – August 1991) who earned the title "the Queen of the Elephants".[7]

Her father having married a cousin, made the young Victoria a Sanger on both sides of the family. She was the great-granddaughter of the original 'Lord' George Sanger. He had bestowed this courtesy peerage on himself when faced with a court battle with Bill Cody, alias Buffalo Bill. On her father\'s side, she was also a great-granddaughter of Lord George\'s brother, John. For many years she travelled with the Lord John Sanger Circus. In 1917 she married James Freeman, a trapeze artiste, highwire walker and clown, among other roles. Plans of their marriage did not meet family approval and the two had to meet in secret. The wedding, which was carried out at Burstow Church, was also carried out unknown to her family.Victoria Sanger Freeman died in August 1991. Her ashes were placed in the family plot at Margate where Sanger\'s 'Hall by the Sea' was — at one time — a crowd puller at the seaside town. She was the last of the great Sanger dynasty. Her obituary appeared in The Daily Telegraph on 21 August 1991.[7]

She had a son, Pat, who followed the family footsteps as a clown. He died at an early age while performing in a circus in Switzerland.[7]

Circus Sanger in United Kingdom United+Kingdom

References for records about Circus Sanger

Recommended Citation

Koehl, Dan (2023). Circus Sanger, Elephant Encyclopedia. Available online at (archived at the Wayback machine)

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