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Sheridan Beats Rivals

Bath, Bath
More British Ghost Stories?
The Royal Crescent in Bath, designed by John Wood the younger, is one of the most stylish and elegant pieces of architecture in the city, indeed in the entirety of Britain, and fittingly it is reported to have a very stylish haunting.
It is said that a coach drawn by four horses is regularly observed pulling away from outside No. 11, with a young couple to be seen inside the vehicle. Legend has it that they are playwright and politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan and the singer Elizabeth Linley who in 1773 became his wife.
Sheridan had prior to the elopement fought two duels with Major Thomas Matthews, foremost in a crowded field vying for Elizabeth’s favours, one of their sword fights taking place on Lansdowne Hill just outside the city. The couple fled to France partly to escape the persistent Matthews, becoming engaged on their arrival in Calais.
Quite why they should haunt the scene of their flight is unclear. It was certainly a dramatic and very romantic moment, but Sheridan had many more dramatic moments in his life: his great success with The Rivals and later with The Critic; his brilliant speeches in Parliament condemning Warren Hastings; and his eventual utter ruin when Drury Lane Theatre (a half-share in which he bought with Linley’s money) burned down in 1809. And Elizabeth too had her theatrical successes and sad end, dying from consumption. Given Sheridan was less than faithful once they were married perhaps the phantom elopement encapsulates the most perfect moment of a life together that was not quite so ideal.

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