Group of five memorials. Late C19. Dedicated to members of the Sanger family, circus proprietors.
Reason for Listing
The group of five memorials to the Sanger family in St John’s Cemetery, Margate is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Sculptural quality: as high-quality examples of High Victorian funerary sculpture;
* Historical interest: the Sanger family is of national historical interest as the foremost showmen and circus owners of the Victorian period, credited with elevating the British circus into a massed spectacle. Of particular note are the dedications to ‘Lord’ George Sanger and his wife, the lion-tamer, Ellen Chapman.
* Group Value: with the fine adjacent listed memorial to John Sanger in the form of a grieving circus horse.
St John's Cemetery, Margate, was opened on the outskirts of the town in 1856. The cemetery is a typical example of a picturesque Victorian funereal landscape, which provides the setting for many grand funerary monuments, used increasingly in the C19 as a means of asserting family affection and showing respect for the dead.
The burials in St John's Cemetery date from 1856 to the present day and illustrate many aspects of Margate's role as a health resort and holiday destination, and as a coastal community comprising all levels of society. The impact of significant cultural and social shifts and major world events over the last 150 years are also reflected in a number of the memorials in the cemetery. The original part of the cemetery was 10 acres; the site now extends to 35 acres, and remains open for new burials.
The Sangers were a noted family of C19 circus proprietors with close links to Margate. ‘Lord’ George Sanger (1825-1911) acquired the Hall-by-the-Sea dance hall on the seafront in 1874, later adding pleasure grounds and a menagerie on land to the rear. This was the forerunner of the famous Dreamland amusement park. George and his brother John (1815-1889) were the sons of James Sanger (1785-1850) who had served on HMS Victory at Trafalgar and afterwards became a showman. The brothers were largely responsible for the elevation of the British circus into a massed spectacle, partly in response to competition from American touring companies. Following semi-permanent ‘exhibitions’ in Liverpool and Plymouth, in 1871 they purchased the renowned Astley’s Amphitheatre on Westminster Bridge Road, London entering the world of the London theatre. The brothers' partnership ended in 1884 and George retired in 1905 to write his autobiography ‘Seventy Years a Showman’ (1910). In 1911 he was killed at his house in East Finchley by an employee, Herbert Charles Cooper. The honorific ‘Lord’ was allegedly adopted by George Sanger following a legal battle with ‘The Honourable’ William Frederick Cody (Buffalo Bill) over Sanger’s version of the ‘Wild West’ show. Also commemorated is George’s wife, Ellen, nee Chapman (1833-1899), who was a famous lion-tamer under the name Madame Pauline de Vere and a third brother, William (1826-1901) who was also involved in the family business, managing the Hall-by-the-Sea and a waxworks in Margate.
The monuments comprise a group of four female marble statues on grey granite plinths arranged at the four corners of a plot defined by a low granite curb. The plinths are by J & H Patteson of Manchester but the sculptor of the statues is unknown. The individual monuments are as follows: 1) at the north corner is a female figure in classical drapery gazing skyward with her right hand on her breast and the left holding the chain of an anchor. The inscribed dedications include ‘Lord’ George Sanger ‘The famous circus proprietor’ and his daughter, Sarah Harriett Sanger (d.1929), wife of Arthur Reeve; 2) at the east corner is a female figure sowing flowers from a fold in her cloak. The dedications include Ellen Sanger (née Chapman) and Arthur Reeve (d.1933); 3) at the west corner is a female figure in classical drapery looking skyward and holding a document in her left hand. The dedications include Laurina Coleman (1853-1882), daughter of 'Lord' George Sanger; 4) at the south corner is a female figure in classical drapery with her right hand clasping a crucifix to her breast. The dedications include Harriet Chapman (1802/3-1888), mother of Ellen Sanger.
To the south-east, between the four monuments and the separately listed monument to John Sanger, is a fifth monument comprising a marble statue of an angel placing a wreath on a ragged cross, set on a marble plinth. This includes dedications to William Sanger and his wife, Mary Rebecca (d.1893).
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.