19th C & 20th C
Mr Felix Testot was a French magician and optical illusionist from the 1820’s. He was known as a real French performer and professor of recreative philosophy. Later joined by his son, a proficient violinist and juggler, The Testots Travelled for over 20 years performing from town to town including Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1841 at the Academy of Arts and Sunderland’s Assembly Rooms.
Testot delighted audiences with acts such as “The dancing and speaking monkey; the famous gun trick; and ‘The transformation of a bird to a child into a lady.’ They also had one of the smallest traveling Circuses in the world, a flea circus. Alf Testo (family name changed to become more English) was a pre-eminent Flea Circus Proprietor on the fairground. With the decline of human flea population 1960s/70s, due to cleaner houses, so has the Flea Circus declined. Cat and Dog fleas are not strong enough! Other extracts from the bills include – “The invisible postman” & “The silver vases of metamorphoses”.
The family were also dear friends to our own Mr A.J Fenwick as they would meet yearly on the Town Moor to discuss news of the circus.