Bristol Old Vic
Work commenced on the construction of The Theatre Royal, Bristol (home of ‘The Bristol Old Vic’ theatre company) in 1764 and the first performance was held there on 30th May 1766. According to a 2002 Bristol Evening News article; ‘the old Bristol theatre is reportedly haunted by the ghost of actress Sarah Siddons and her repeat performances at the theatre are the stuff of legendary eerie tales. It was said that she had been seen roaming about the theatre and young members of the company used to be petrified by a presence while on their own backstage. The atmosphere was so scary that people used to walk around the place in pairs at night. Theatre lights would go out mysteriously and non-stop banging came from the carpenter’s room. Her career was often tempestuous, with her debut at Drury Lane in 1775 flopping miserably. She was also temperamental and tactless. Her naturally avaricious nature also made her the victim of cruel jokes and bitchiness and she was once led weeping from the stage at Drury Lane in 1784. Strangely, in the West Country she excelled in almost 100 different classical roles, and was very popular with audiences. She eventually left to return to Drury Lane, where she had once failed miserably and her admirers flocked in their droves to be sure of a seat.’
I have come across references that suggest the ‘lady in black’ that haunts the theatre may be another Sarah entirely. I have read that it could be Sarah, the mistress and eventual wife of William M’Cready (Macready) who rather unsuccessfully managed the theatre after 1819. Sarah then managed the theatre between William’s death and her own in 1853.
There is also reputedly a second ghost that haunts the theatre. This could be that of a backstage paint shop worker who died in the theatre. He has been blamed for moving objects around.