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Page last updated at 07:36 GMT, Friday, 9 July 2010 08:36 UK
Spooky encounter for Bristol Old Vic architect

By Robin Markwell
BBC Bristol

The architect leading the redevelopment of the Bristol Old Vic claims to have seen the theatre manager who worked there 200 years ago.

Bristol Old Vic
Former actress Sarah Macready was the theatre's manager

The ghost of Sarah Macready appeared to Andrzej Blonski as he climbed the back stairs at lunchtime.

He says she was wearing a long, white crinoline dress, had black hair and a pretty face. When he tried to speak to her she vanished.

Mr Blonski told the BBC that he has never believed in ghosts and - prior to their meeting - was not aware of her legacy at the Bristol Old Vic.

"The thing that really got me was that she smiled - she was a friend and then she vanished," he said.

"But then I was really very, very happy - at the moment I'm quite emotional about it because I think that if there is a ghost, it's someone who cares about this building."

The architect believes that her smile is a sign that she approves of the current redevelopment work taking place in the theatre.

Andrzej Blonski says he has sensed ghostly presences on the stairs before, and caught a whiff of lavender perfume.

This distinctive scent has also accompanied some of her previous appearances since her death.

A security guard in the 1980s smelled lavender in the air while on patrol along the passageways below the auditorium. The Alsatian dog by his side froze and started barking.

The guard also says he heard a woman's voice tell him to "get out" and he felt her breath on his face.

Andrew Stocker, who gives tours of the Bristol Old Vic, said Sarah Macready's hard work was part of the key to the theatre's early success.

"She was an actress originally - she had an affair with William Charles Macready. He married her and he basically gave her the keys to the theatre and she worked here for over 10 years.

What the Old Vic will look like after the revamp
Mr Blonski believes the the former manager approves of the revamp

"She was a lady that ran this building seven days a week and she was an incredible lady."

The project manager from the team redesigning the Bristol Old Vic had a more shocking experience. Mr Blonski says that he was physically pushed. He ran away and now will not use the "haunted" staircase.

Sarah Macready is not the only spirit said to haunt this old playhouse. The ghost of a boy who died in an accident in the paint shop in the 1950s has been spotted as well as the 18th Century West End actress Sarah Siddons.

Mr Blonski says he feels the building is alive with its past: "It's got a very strong spirit - the spirit of the people who have passed through it and I connect to that. Somehow this place has got to me."




SEE ALSO
Old Vic to reopen after Christmas
06 Oct 08 |  Bristol
New plan to reopen theatre early
11 Jul 08 |  Bristol
Future of city theatre 'assured'
30 Oct 07 |  Bristol
Meeting to debate city's theatres
06 Jul 07 |  Bristol
Theatre launches appeal for funds
05 Jun 07 |  Bristol

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