Theatre ghost backs architect’s renovation
A leading theatre architect working on the renovation of the Bristol Old Vic has had a run in with the theatre’s former manager – who worked there 200 years ago.
Andrzej Blonski, a founding partner of LCE Andrzej Blonski Architects, encountered the ghost of Sarah Macready on the theatre’s back stairs two weeks ago, after a site meeting for the ongoing refurbishment of the building.
“I had a strong feeling of a presence and I turned around and saw this fleeting apparition, an image of a woman in a white crinoline dress with black hair. She had a wonderful smile on her face,” said Blonski who has worked on a number of similar projects including the refurbishment of the Theatre Royal in Plymouth.
Macready is one of two female ghosts who are said to haunt the building. She managed the theatre after the death of its owner, her husband, in the first half of the 19th century.
Lavender perfume, which has been associated with her presence in the past, has been smelt by site workers and by Blonski, who believes that her appearance was a nod of approval for his project.
Blonski won the commission to refurbish and develop the theatre in 2001. The project is being carried out in three stages to ensure that the theatre can continue to operate and raise the funds needed for the scheme.
The original 1766 Theatre Royal auditorium, which would have been familiar to Macready, has been altered for modern use and elements of the original design have been recovered.
Fundraising for the final stage, a new foyer space, launches in September and the entire complex is due for completion in 2013.
“There are always stories about ghosts in theatres,” Blonski added. “When the theatre closed down a couple of years ago… it looked like a very sad place. It’s managed to continue working almost without stop for 240 years and people don’t know what a treasure it is really.
“The theatre has a new energy, it’s alive, there are a lot of young people around and there have been good audiences. It’s lovely. So seeing Mrs Macready, it kind of fell into place somehow.”
Tomorrow we will be publishing BD’s pick of the top ten architectural hauntings and haunted buildings in the UK.