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Vauxhall – an 18th century English Pleasure Garden

Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, in his book English Garden Eccentrics: Three Hundred Years of Extraordinary Groves, Burrowings, Mountains and Menageries, mentions Vauxhall Gardens in London.

I had to investigate why these gardens were called ‘eccentric.’

Perhaps it was the focus of pleasure in the garden, including music and dancing.

Vauxhall Gardens is a public park in Kennington in the London Borough of Lambeth, England, on the south bank of the River Thames.

The following came kindly from Wikipedia:

Originally known as New Spring Gardens, it is believed to have opened before the Restoration of 1660, being mentioned by Samuel Pepys in 1662. From 1785 to 1859, the site was known as Vauxhall, a pleasure garden and one of the leading venues for public entertainment in London from the mid-17th century to the mid-19th century. The Gardens consisted of several acres of trees and shrubs with attractive walks. Initially entrance was free, with food and drink being sold to support the venture.

Here is a scene from that garden. I am grateful to Wikepedia for both the image along with a bit of history of Vauxhall:

Vauxhall Garden, 1809

Coloured aquatint, Thomas Rowlandson.

The eighteenth century was the age of commercialized leisure according to historian John Plumb.

By 1830 the following were included in the fun and frolic at Vauxhall: hot-air balloon ascents, fireworks, and tightrope walking.

For light there were 15,000 glass lamps which lit up the night.

Then a garden was not just a garden, but could be a place of fun and pleasure as well.

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