Birthplace of Sarah Siddons, Brecon

Link to French translationBirthplace of Sarah Siddons, 47 High Street, Brecon

Painting of actress Sarah SiddonsThis building dates from the early 18th century. It was known as The Shoulder of Mutton in 1755, when Sarah Kemble was born here. As Sarah Siddons, she became the leading tragic actress of her age. Today the pub is named The Sarah Siddons Inn.

It appears that the inn was directly connected to the adjoining 16th-century building by what seems to be a small doorway, which you can see if you go into Ardent Gallery.

Sarah was the eldest of the 11 children of Roger Kemble and Sarah Ward, roving actors who had arrived in Brecon to take part in a play shortly before Sarah’s birth. Their company continued to perform on both sides of the border, and young Sarah took child parts. An actor named William Siddons joined their company and later asked to marry Sarah. This was opposed by her parents, prompting the actor to read a rhyming appeal to the audience from the stage in Brecon! He was sacked from the company and returned to his native West Midlands. Sarah was sent to work as a maid in Warwick.

However, the couple were married in Coventry in 1773. They had seven children. Sarah began performing in London in 1775. In the 1780s she became Britain’s most prominent actress, noted especially for her Lady Macbeth in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. She gave private readings for the king and queen at Windsor Castle and Buckingham House. At the zenith of her career she earned up to £5,000 a year – an unsually high salary for the time. Prominent painters, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, painted her portrait.

She gave her sister, the novelist and poet Ann of Swansea, an annuity on condition that Ann lived at least 150 miles from London!

She retired from theatrical dramas in 1812 but continued to give public readings. It's thought that she appeared at Aberystwyth’s first theatre in or after 1818. She died in 1831. Her funeral was attended by an estimated 5,000 people. She is commemorated by a marble sculpture in Westminster Abbey.

Postcode: LD3 7AP    View Location Map

 

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