Jephson Gardens, Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
In its heyday, people came to holiday Royal Leamington Spa from far and wide. They came to drink the natural mineral water there, and to reap its many alleged benefits. Royal Leamington Spa became a 19th century tourist hotspot. And where there are tourists, there’s entertainment. Before long, the town had its first permanent circuses. One of the most famous was Lockhart’s. But the tourists didn’t pile into Lockahrt’s every night for the magic, the comedy, the death-defying deeds of daring-do. They came for the elephants. Samuel Lockhart was born into a Leamington circus family in 1850, and as a young man, he traveled to Ceylon, modern-day Sri Lanka. There, he fell in love with elephants and learned how to train them. When he returned home to Royal Leamington Spa a few years later, he was accompanied by three grey-skinned and tusky beauties, Haddie, Trilby and Wilhelmina, known fondly to Samuel as the Three Graces. Every night after that, the Three Graces would perform an elaborate ballet at Lockhart’s Circus to rapturous and heartfelt applause. And every day after that, Samuel would bring Haddie, Trilby and Wilhelmina to the banks of the River Leam, there to drink and bathe and enjoy themselves away from the pressure and stresses of their showbiz careers. This statue shows Samuel as a youngster. And it’s round. Like the circus is round. But most importantly, it’s a reminder of the happiness brought to so many by Royal Leamington Spa’s most elegant and most beautiful ballerinas.