Sarah Siddons was an important and famous actress at a time when acting was only just becoming a respectable role for women.
She performed all over the UK but gained real fame in London's West End. She was called the ‘Queen of Drury Lane’ and a critic said of her performance "Wonderful stories are told of her powers over the spectators”.
William Charles Macready, an actor, relates that when she played Aphasia in Tamburlaine, after seeing her lover strangled before her eyes, so terrible was her agony as she fell lifeless upon the stage and the audience believed she was really dead!
Unto the last she received the homage of the great; even the Duke of Wellington attended her receptions, and carriages were drawn up before her door nearly all day long.
She also found time to marry and have seven children.
Dot Oakes, Lydbrook resident, says:
“Her portrait was painted by Reynolds and Gainsborough, there are statues of her in Westminster Abbey and at Paddington Green. The ‘Sarah Siddons Award’ is awarded annually in Chicago for distinguished actresses and the 1923 Metropolitan electric train named after her is the only one that remains. Sarah Siddons had a house in Central Lydbook, much photographed by tourists.”
Image credit: Sarah Siddons (née Kemble) after Thomas Gainsborough offset lithograph printed in colours, (1785). NPG D41676 © National Portrait Gallery, London
You might be surprised what you find!
From creating habitats for our wildlife or improving our waterways, to recording oral histories or finding old photos, there’s always something going on to get involved in!