During the Lancaster Heritage weekend in September 2017, the Mayor, Councillor Roger Mace, took a guided tour of Lancaster Grand Theatre. During the tour, the guide told him that the theatre opened in 1782, having been designed and built by Joseph Austin and Charles Whitlock. Charles Whitlock had married the sister of the famous 18th century actress, Sarah Siddons, who was a member of one of Britain’s premier theatre families of the time having “conquered” London with her performances at the Drury Lane Theatre. She had travelled to Lancaster in 1799 to perform at the Grand as reported in the Monthly Mirror “to the most crowded and fashionable audiences ever seen in Lancaster”.
By coincidence, Roger had been researching his family history for many years and following an email some three years ago from a fourth cousin of his mother, he discovered that there was a link between his known Siddons ancestors and a lady called Sarah Siddons. So to his great surprise, he found he is not only related to one of the key theatrical players of the eighteenth century but also to one of the designers and builders of our very own Lancaster Grand. Could Sarah’s ghost be at work here – Roger’s daughter has chosen acting as a career having herself appeared on our theatre stage as a child?
Rogers muses “Do you think that is that close enough to be the basis of an episode of ‘Who do you think you are?'”