Giffords Circus is a travelling Victorian-style village green family circus based in the Cotswolds. In 2015 they came to Chiswick House. I contacted them and requested permission to photograph a performance. They very kindly offered a whole day including the evening show.
I arrived on a very hot day and wandered around taking photographs of horses being exercised and costumes hanging up. Artists were relaxing in the shade as this was a rest day for them. There is very much a vintage feel about this circus with beautiful old caravans and bunches of flowers outside. The stable tent is luxuriously large and all the fancy decorations on the tack are handmade.
Later before the event started, stalls were set up selling food and souvenirs. The retail is very good with posters of past shows, mugs, t-shirts etc. There is also a restaurant marquee.
Crowds were arriving and the atmosphere was getting exciting. I entered the big top and saw that space was limited. I set myself up on the top walkway and waited. Every year there is a different theme and that year it was Moon Songs. The show was so imaginative, full of fun and intrigue and magic. The performances were of the highest quality and the animals – horses and dogs are part of the family and their welfare is paramount. Later I moved down to the front row to see the stars of the show – a bear riding a horse being lead by a dog. And yep, there they suddenly were trotting around the ring. The bear of course is not real but one of the expert riders in costume.
Anyone interested in UK circus life should read ‘Josser: The Secret Life Of A Circus Girl’ by Nell Stroud. Nell jointly started Giffords and she should be very proud of what she has achieved.