A mysterious Irish singer once graced the gardens where the Britannia Adelphi hotel now stands.
Namesake of today’s Ranelagh Street, the Ranelagh Gardens, Liverpool city centre ‘s first public recreation space, opened in the 1720s, modelled on gardens of the same name in London.
The Ranelagh Gardens’ fish pond surrounded by flowers, shrubs and alcoves made it a popular green spot for wealthy residents on what was then the edge of an emerging industrial and slave port.
Fireworks coloured the night sky above, and music flowed from an orchestra playing by the fish pond for the entertainment of customers who’d paid to enter the gardens running up Brownlow Hill to Russell Street.
One singer whose song filled the air of Ranelagh Gardens was Rachael Baptist, an Irish woman whose beginning is as mysterious as her end.
Nothing is known of Baptist’s life or family before she appeared in the 1750a as a solo performer dressed in a yellow silk gown, gracing Dublin’s stages and pleasure gardens.
Coincidentally, the area of Dublin known as Ranelagh was also named after a local late 18th century venue called Ranelagh Gardens.
Described as “a native of the country”, Baptist was one of the at least 1,000 Black people in Ireland in the late 1700s, according to historian William Hart.
Baptist spent 10 years in England from 1757, claiming to meet applause from watching crowds in London, Bath and Lancashire.
The Irish singer sang at Ranelagh Gardens, Liverpool in the spring and summer of 1758, returning in April 1767 to perform under her married name, Rachael Crow, near the peak of her career.
Rachael and her musician husband, John Crow, returned to Ireland later in 1767.
Baptist, now Crow, travelled around Ireland, giving concerts and balls, and performing arias by Handel and Boyce, before dropping off the radar in 1773.
Ranelagh Gardens in Liverpool closed in the 1790s, replaced by the first hotel on the site three decades later.
The third and final hotel, the Grade II listed building of the Britannia Adelphi, was opened in 1914.