Circus Horse, Black Eagle
"Black Eagle" was purchased by the circus proprietors, John and George Sanger, from the King of the Belgians. The brothers established their circus in 1845 in Lynn, Norfolk. They travelled with increasing success around the country, becoming regular lessees of the Agricultural Halls Islington, where they produced many costly and extravagant shows, gradually outstripping both their British and American rivals. One such show, entitled "The Congress of Monarchs", was reputedly seen in one day by 37,000 people. The properties and paraphanelia of this were purchased in 1874 by P.T. Barnum for £33,000. The Sanger's gave their winter performances at Astley's Ampitheatre, in Westminster Bridge Road, travelling in the summer months across the country with a large company, including, amongst other animals, over 200 horses. They produced a number of lavish equestrian pantomimes, appearing before Queen Victoria on several occasions at Balmoral, Sandringham and Windsor. The programme for one such Royal performance at Sandringham on January 8th 1885 (copies included) lists as performance number 6 "The Thoroughbred Entire Horse "Black Eagle, late the property of the King of the Belgians, in the High School of the Manege, by Miss Lavinia Sanger. This highly trained animal will conclude his perfomance by Dancing to Music. Lavinia Sanger, Mrs Hoffman, was the daughter of John Sanger. The headquarters of the enterprise was fixed at the Hall by the Sea at Margate, where both brothers were buried, John beneath a costly white marble monument part of which represents a mourning horse.
An old engraving showing the American trick-horse Black Eagle performing at Howes and Cushing's Great United States Circus at the Alhambra, Leicester Square, London, 1858. The audience shown, on the left of the picture, included Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and many of the young princes and princesses of Great Britain. The performer standing in the ring, directing Black Eagle, was John H. Murray.
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