The way people spend their leisure time has changed over time. We now spend a lot of time online, watching films and television, listening to music, as well as going to festivals, gigs, the cinema, parks, sports events and the circus. Can you think of other ways people spend their leisure time now?
250 years ago, in 1768, on an abandoned patch of land in London, showman, entrepreneur and equestrian rider Philip Astley drew out a circle in the ground and filled it with astounding physical acts. There were jugglers, acrobats, clowns, strong men, bareback riders and other performers. This was the world’s very first circus and ever since going to the circus has been a popular past time.
Philip’s amphitheatre used a 42 foot diameter arena, which is now the standard size of a circus performance ring.
The collection at Leeds Museums and Galleries include a range of circus themed toys, illustrating the enduging popularity of the circus through time, and especially with children.