The “Queen” of Hoxton
ca.1822 – 1899
Oh hey there gurl, were you looking for the Queen? You just missed her. In fact, you’re about 100 years too late. But not to worry, because tonight we dim the lights, howl at the sound system and party until we shake the rafters and raise the dead. Tonight we conjure up some sticky, sweaty unholy happenings. Tonight is the invocation of East London’s sassiest spirit, the ghost of Sarah Lane… otherwise known as the Queen of Hoxton.Sarah Lane was the Manager of The Britannia Theatre in Hoxton from 1845 until her death in 1899.
She was a Jill of all Trades: performing, singing and writing her own plays as well as showing sister solidarity by presenting plays of at least 6 female writers. Once every year, she threw an annual benefit night (aka giant street party and festival) for the local poor. Imagine, if you will: on this night, around six o’clock The Britannia Theatre would open its doors to reveal colourful acrobatics, songs and dances. Ushers staggered around the crowd carrying a mouthwatering selection of sandwiches, fried fish and hot saveloys, while others carried a wide belt around their waist, divided into compartments for porter and ale with actual taps for pouring. Who doesn’t love a good drink and dance with friends?When the curtain finally went up, there was our gal Sarah Lane – crowned affectionately by locals as “The Queen of Hoxton” – surrounded by her troupe of local poor performers. She presented each of them with a gift and the audience threw bouquets of meats, boots and clothing (yup – basically, anything they were in need of). The audience then dispersed around midnight, tired but happy.
Legend has it that when Sarah Lane died, over 5000 locals lined the streets of Hoxton to watch her coffin procession… but some say her spirit still haunts these streets.
So, grab your highest heels, biggest wigs, sparkliest eco-friendly-recyclable-vegan-generally-good glitter and raise a drink (or seven) to Sarah Lane, serving badass Queen realness since 1845.