Sunday, 13 November 2011

THE GHOSTS OF THE THEATRE ROYAL COVENT GARDEN LONDON

One of London`s most enduring and historical theatres has to be the Theatre Royal.
Originally built in 1633 by a royal `letters patent` issued by Charles II following the restoration of the monarchy after 11 years of Puritanism in 1660, the original Theatre Royal stood until 1672 when it burned down. Ironic because it had escaped the Great Fire of London earlier in 1666.

The second theatre opened in 1674 and lasted until  1791 when it was demolished to make way for a larger and improved theatre which opened in 1794 but sadly burned down in 1809 before finally being rebuilt in much of it`s present form which opened in 1812.

Over the years the theatre had experienced much human tragedy ranging from accidental deaths, suicides, bankruptcy and people dying in theatre of natural causes, and so the building has a long legacy of regular hauntings.
These include: the "Man in Grey", who appears dressed as a nobleman of the late 18th century: powdered hair beneath a tricorne hat, a dress jacket and cloak or cape, riding boots and a sword.  Legend says that the Man in Grey is the ghost of a knife-stabbed man whose skeletal remains were found within a walled-up side passage in 1848.

 The ghosts of actor Charles Macklin and clown Joseph Grimaldi are supposed to haunt the theatre. Macklin appears backstage, wandering the corridor which now stands in the spot where, in 1735, he killed his fellow actor Thomas Hallam in an argument over a wig. ("Goddamn you for a blackguard, scrub, rascal!" he shouted, thrusting a cane into Hallam's face and piercing his left eye. Grimaldi is a helpful apparition, purportedly guiding nervous actors skillfully about the stage on more than one occasion. Stanley Lupino claimed to have seen the ghost of Dan Leno in a dressing room.

Joseph Grimaldi

A few years ago, I decided to focus a short video on Joseph Grimaldi who is regarded as the father of the modern clown.
Gimaldi died on 31 May 1837 and was buried in the old cemetery of St. James's Chapel, Pentonville Road in Islington. Today the area of his burial has been renamed Grimaldi Park, and his grave is very ornately constructed in homage to his life as a performing clown.

Grimaldi`s Grave today
 It was said that on his death he requested that his head be separated from his body, as he was fearful of being buried alive. It is also claimed he haunts Sadlers Wells theatre in London as well.

On my visit (which was in a very noisy environment caused by passing traffic) I was able to pick up EVP from his grave which clearly said, "I heard you". Judge for yourself.




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