Lesley Smith

The wife of one of Samuel Johnson’s close friends will be brought back to life at Lichfield Guildhall.

Lesley Smith, the curator of Tutbury Castle, actress and historian on Living TV’s Most Haunted is renowned for her portrayals of historical women such as Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots.

But on June 13 Hester Thrale will be the persona she takes on in the historic surroundings of the Guildhall.

Mrs Thrale, who is probably most familiar to Lichfield residents as the name-sake of a local restaurant, was the wife of a brewer and close friend of Johnson. He met the Thrales in 1765 and spent many years staying with the family, when he would confide his deepest secrets in Hester.

The audience can expect a night of insight and revelations about Lichfield’s most famous son, as well as a glimpse of what Georgian life was like as a woman.

Tickets are £8 and are available in advance from the Birthplace Museum, or on the door at the event. Tickets are selling fast and advance booking is recommended. The event is also not suitable for under 16s.

Joanne Wilson, Museums and Heritage Officer for Lichfield City Council, said:

“Lesley’s appearance as Hester Thrale is a fantastic highlight of the year of events celebrating Johnson’s 300th Birthday. She is known for electrifying performances in stunning costume and, combined with the fascinating character of Hester, we should have a wonderful evening in store.”

Lesley, who has developed the new character as a special tribute to her home city in this important tercentenary year, will also be appearing as Hester in a second, more intimate, event at the Samuel Johnson Birthplace Museum in June 27.

Tickets for that performance cost £4.50 and can be purchased from the Birthplace Museum on the Market Square, joint tickets for both events available.

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.