(Augusta Carolina Rosaline Wingfield died 12th October 1947)
The Queen of the Spiral – The Belle of the Ball!
One of the most wonderful entertainers to grace Blackpool ~ that you’ve never heard of!
Also known as ‘Alphonsine La Belle Rose’ Queen of the Spiral (or sometimes just plain Mrs Wingfield) Augusta was, in her day, a world renowned artistè who traversed the globe with her Giant Spiral act, performing at such illustrious places as the Folie Bergere.
Her father was the owner of a Russian circus, she was German by birth, but professed to be a french mademoiselle when using her mètier persona!
Putting down roots in Blackpool in around 1914, along with her husband John Wingfield, a Canadian who ran a successful performing dogs act, Augusta continued to entertain the public who visited the seaside town. (John and Augusta appear on the same bill together in 1885 at the Brighton Aquarium so this may be around the time they first met.)
She famously astounded the crowds when performing her spiral ascension act at The Royal Palace Gardens at Raikes Hall. The audience were always delighted, as balanced on a giant sphere, Alphonsine precariously climbed the twists and turns of the circumvoluted tower. . .backwards!
But Alphonsine was also renowned for having a saucy side too -and nothing pleased the Victorian gentleman more, than when upon her decent, she began to discard items of her clothing for titillation purposes, which certainly aroused lots of interest! She often ended these performances completely nude and as she had done this while moving (it seems stationary nudity was okay at the time) she was arrested seventeen times and appeared in court charged with offending standards of public decency.
After a fall from her ball and damaging her back Alphonsine continued with her act, but later, being plagued by back problems tweaked her career performing a less raunchy Serpentine Dance act at the Winter Gardens and Hippodrome Theatre (later the ABC), eventually retiring in 1918.
A full twenty years before her demise Augusta//Alphonsine had purchased not one, but two plots in Layton Cemetery and had the graves ‘hollowed out’ to form an underground tomb. She intended to spend the afterlife in comfort.
Augusta sadly passed away on the 12th October 1947, she reached the great age of 92.
Her funeral was the affair she deserved and hoped for. Dressed in a beautiful white costume from her hay days of stardom and adorned in her finest jewellery she was laid in a white coffin. As the grand cortège travelled slowly to the graveside her awaiting tomb was bedecked in an ocean of pure white blooms . . . which was exactly what she had instructed. In her will she had stated”I have lived like a queen, I shall die like one.”