Sir Henry Irving
Nominated by John Pennington, Bradford City Councillor and former proprietor of The Midland Hotel, Forster Square
‘Into Thy Hands Oh Lord…’
“Sir Henry Irving – Britain’s first knighted actor – died in the foyer of Bradford’s Midland Hotel in October 1905, to be subsequently buried in Westminster Abbey.
“Queen Victoria sent a wreath for his coffin, which could not be removed from the hotel by the front entrance due to the huge number of people outside in Cheapside.
“An undistinguished final exit had to be made through the kitchens to the railway station – a route he still walks to this day with shoulder length grey locks and a frock coat!
“Sir Henry had been performing a selection of Shakesperian plays at the nearby Theatre Royal. The play concluded with the final words spoken whilst on bended knee, “Into thy hands Oh Lord I commend my soul.”
“He returned to the hotel by handsome cab feeling unwell, and sat on a chair at the bottom of the grand staircase where he passed away. Unknown then, it would be Sir Henry’s manager [also staying at the hotel] who would achieve almost similar notoriety… for he was none other than Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula.
The unfortunate circumstances did not end there, as I give you the specific date… Friday the 13th!”