On Friday 25 October a magic lantern will shine out once more in Chichester, at Roussillon Park’s Community Hall. Before the arrival of the cinema in 1896 people were entertained by images projected by the magic lantern, which is essentially an elaborate slide projector. It was invented in the mid seventeenth century and the Victorians brought it to a high degree of mechanical sophistication. Many slides were hand painted with elaborate mechanisms which produced moving, coloured pictures long before the cinema. Others were photographic, giving us a glimpse into the daily lives of people more than 100 years ago.
The magic lantern show at the Community Hall in Roussillon Park will be given by Trevor Beattie, who is a member of the Magic Lantern Society and Chief Executive of the South Downs National Park Authority. Trevor will recreate the type of show that you would have seen in Chichester between 120 and 180 years ago. There will be comic tales, early photographs of the south coast, a Victorian soap opera and the unique “artificial fireworks”, which were Victorian psychedelia. All of the slides used will be original and over 100 years old and many are beautifully hand painted with mechanical movements. In addition to Trevor’s Lanterns, you will also have the chance to see the original magic lantern saved from Graylingwell Hospital, known as ‘Harry’.
The show will begin with a short talk about the history and practice of the magic lantern. It will be suitable for the whole family and will last about an hour and a half, with an interval. Pre-booking is essential. Tickets can be bought here for £8, including a glass of wine or soft drink. See you there!