Philip Astley was credited with being the 'father' of the modern circus when he opened the first circus in 1768 in England . Early circuses were almost exclusively demonstrations of equestrian skills with a few other types of acts to link the horsemanship performances. Circus performances today are still held in a ring usually 13 m (42 ft) in diameter. This dimension was adopted by Philip Astley in the late 18th century as the minimum diameter in which acrobatic horse riders could stand upright on a cantering horse and perform their tricks.
|Details of a circus in Stourbridge 1850 (b899:31/BA3762/vol2 p304)|
This advertisement from a Worcestershire paper from 1850 shows drawings of a visiting circus performing these very skills.