Catalogue description PAPERS OF WILLIAM COOKE

This record is held by Lambeth Archives

Details of IV/157
Reference: IV/157

Letters, tour itineries wife's diary.

Date: 1851-1905
Held by: Lambeth Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Cooke, William Henry, d 1905, circus master, of Wimbledon, Surrey

Physical description: 10 Files
Access conditions:


Immediate source of acquisition:

Purchase: Myers Autographs


Date: Nov 1989

Publication note:

Other Sources


Astleys Amphitheatre J.S. Bratton and J. Traies 1980


Astleys Amphitheatre Playbill Collection Lambeth Archives Dept

Administrative / biographical background:

Introduction Astley's Amphitheatre on Westminster Bridge Road, founded by Philip Astley in ca 1770, grew from a riding school to become the world's first circus. The name was retained after Astley's death in 1814 until the final closure in 1893 although the establishment was run by a succession of different proprietors and was substantially rebuilt.


William Henry Cooke was a member of the Cooke Circus family and, with his brother James, was touring the country as Cooke's Colossal Equestrian Establishment in the early 1850's. In 1853 he took on a 7-year lease for Astley's Amphitheatre from the then proprietor, William Batty. Under Cooke Astleys revived in popularity; he was famous for his equestrian displays, including adaptations of Macbeth and Richard III performed on horseback.


Cooke did not renew his lease on Astley's in 1860. In 1866 he opened the Victoria Riding Establishment at Church Road, Wimbledon which he and his sons managed until his death in 1905.

Link to NRA Record:

Have you found an error with this catalogue description?

Help with your research