The Theatre Royal Haymarket
The Grade I listed Theatre Royal at Haymarket dates from 1720 and is reputed to be haunted by the playwright and comic actor John Baldwin Buckstone (born 14 September 1802 – died 31 October 1879). In 2009 whilst starring with Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf, Lord Of The Rings) in the play Waiting for Godot, Sir Patrick Stewart reported seeing Buckstones apparition.
Sir Patrick Stewart (born 13 July 1940, Mirfield, West Yorkshire) is one of Britain’s best loved film, television and stage actors, known worldwide for playing Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek The Next Generation and Professor Charles Xavier in the X-men. On 25 August 2009 the Daily Telegraph published an article by Stephen Adams entitled
‘Patrick Stewart saw ghost performing Waiting for Godot’, which described the experience.
Patrick Stewart has told fellow actors that he saw a ghost in what is reputed to be one of Britain’s most haunted theatres.
He saw the apparition while performing Waiting for Godot with Sir Ian McKellen.
Stage hands believe he saw the ghost of John Baldwin Buckstone, who was actor-manager of the Theatre Royal Haymarket in the mid 19th century and a friend of Charles Dickens.
Upon coming offstage for the interval, Stewart told his co-star that he saw a man standing in the wings wearing what looked like a beige coat and twill trousers.
Sir Ian asked him: “What happened, what threw you?”
“I just saw a ghost. On stage, during Act One,” Stewart replied.
The episode was related in a documentary about the Theatre Royal Haymarket, produced by television channel Sky Arts.
However, it appears cameramen failed to capture images of the ghost itself.
Stephen Adams article also quoted the Theatre’s director Nigel Everett who shed some light on previous sightings.
“Patrick told us all about it. He was stunned. I would not say frightened, but I would say impressed.”
Appearances of Buckstone were not that frequent, Mr Everett said, with the last being by a stage hand about three or four years ago.
He added: “The last time an actor saw him would have been I think Fiona Fullerton, playing in an Oscar Wilde, 10 or 12 years ago.
“The ghost tends to appear when a comedy is playing.”
While he said he did not consider Waiting for Godot to be a comedy, he thought their production did have comic aspects.
“I think Buckstone appears when he appreciates things,” he added. “We view it as a positive thing.”
Buckstone was born in Hoxton, London on 14 September 1802 and after spending some of his early years apprenticed on a Navy vessel he studied law before taking up acting at the age of nineteen. He had a longstanding association with the Haymarket Theatre, first appearing on stage there in 1833, followed by five years of writing for its audiences and acting upon its stage. He returned to the Haymarket Theatre again in 1840 and in 1848 before replacing Benjamin Webster as the Theatre’s manager in 1853, a job he held until 1877. In 1854 his fiance the actress Fanny Fitzwilliam died of chlorea shortly before their wedding day. Buckstone eventually married Isabella Copeland, Fanny’s sister. John Baldwin Buckstone died at home in Lower Sydenham on 31 October 1879 following several years of ill health.