Rare Victorian posters found in town cellar

Susan Hill with the Victorian posters.
Susan Hill with the Victorian posters.

Five rare Victorian posters advertising a bizarre show in Boston have been unearthed at a cellar in the town.

The posters, from 1876, advertise “Grace Egerton’s Sketches of Odd People”, a show at Shodfriars Hall – with tickets costing one shilling (5p) – equivalent to about £4 today.

They are owned by David and Susan Hill, of Tower Gardens, who are keen to find out more about them.

“They belonged to my father-in-law Jeff Hill who found them in the cellar at his home in Freiston Road before he died,” said Susan. “They were just lying undisturbed on a shelf and were covered in dust. But they are in good condition considering. I think being kept in a dark cellar has kept the ink so vibrant.”

Jeff’s old home is believed to have formed part of an inn dating back to Victorian times. A number of other items, including bottles, were also uncovered in the cellar.

“We think these posters must have been given to the pub to put up and advertise the show,” Susan said. “But judging by the condition of them, with no pin marks or anything, we don’t think they were ever hung.”

The couple say they are fascinated to learn more about the show and the posters – and are also seeking advice on how to preserve them.

Grace Egerton’s shows were popular around the world – playing as far away as the US, Canada,Australia and India. Her brand of entertainment also included songs, dances and travellers’ tales.

This show’s arrival in Boston – billed as ‘one night only’ – would have been a popular event, especially with the fascination in all things bizarre and unusal in Victorian times.

Susan said: “I think the show would just have been images shown of people considered ‘odd’ back then – such as a really tall man – or those with disabilities that people didn’t understand in those times.”

David added: “We would like one poster to stay in the town – so would like to donate one to the Guildhall Museum.”

The couple are looking for information on the posters, how rare they are and how much they are worth.

l If you have information about them email gemma.gadd@jpress.co.uk