History of the Royal Hanneford Family Circus | Lifestyles

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The Hanneford family, long regarded as the “royal family of the circus”, can rightly claim an unbroken history of the circus which is fast approaching three centuries! From Edwin Hanneford in the late 1600s to current family action Tommy Hanneford, they have always amazed, amused, delighted and thrilled audiences around the world with their resin exploits and stellar circus performances.

Our story begins in 1690 with Michael Hanneford, of Irish descent, traveling the dusty roads of rural England with Wombwell’s Menagerie, the first show of its kind in the British Isles. Each day, athlete Michael presented a riding demonstration that included dancing and jumping on the bare back of a galloping horse. Word spread about the multi-talented artist, so he was invited to attend a competition in front of King George III to determine who was England’s greatest juggler. He not only juggled the Grand Prix, but he also made his mark in the circus tradition by presenting the first of the Hanneford Royal Command Performances, a tradition of honor that has been repeated by each successive generation since then.

Over the next 100 years, the Hanneford name became synonymous with perfection in the circus arts as the children and then grandchildren of Michael Hanneford continued to perform in the exciting family tradition. Towards the end of the last century, after generations as star performers, the Hannefords decided to become “their own bosses” and built their own circus. They visited England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales each year with the show before World War I, showing up in a tent and moving on the roads between towns in horse-drawn carriages . From its inception, the show became a big popular favorite.


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