In the year which marks the 250th anniversary of the first Circus – one man and a horse in a tent in South London – Moreton Hall brought the Circus to Shropshire this week with a homemade extravaganza featuring all the traditions of the circus ring, complete with a red and orange big top!

Set against the backdrop of perfect June skies and Moreton Hall’s stunning grounds, the striking big top was the stage for clowns, stilt walkers, a performing dog, chickens, equine acts and even an elephant (courtesy of the British Ironworks!).

Inspired by both the 250th anniversary and the popular Gifford Circus, Moreton Hall must surely be the only school in the country with a circus created especially for it! The brainchild of Grainne and Matthew Dennison, the Moreton Hall Circus features an eclectic array of circus acts punctuating the story of Quenella, a school runaway. In search of the bright lights and sawdust, Quenella becomes the heroine of circus owner Madame Vera’s fading show.

Over a hectic ten days of preparation and rehearsals, pupils and staff from across the school community pulled together, with a role for everyone from sewing hundreds of tutus to performing daredevil acrobatics.

Grainne Dennison believes: “this circus could only happen in a single-sex boarding environment, where the girls’ confidence and lack of self-consciousness means they’re happy to dress up as anything from chickens to burlesque dancers and love every minute of it”

Principal Jonathan Forster commented: “The circus has been a wonderful opportunity for all the school to work intensively together after exams to produce a fabulous tribute to the skills and energy of everyone at Moreton. What a way to end the school year!”

The Circus comes at the close of an exciting year at Moreton Hall as they prepare to cut the turf on the Holroyd Community Theatre. With the theatre expected to be up and running within a year, Moreton Hall looks set to continue to be the destination of choice for vibrant and exciting Performing Arts events across the community.

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