Vauxhall Gardens

Vauxhall Gardens ( /ˈvɒksɔːl/) was a pleasure garden, one of the leading venues for public entertainment in London, England from the mid 17th century to the mid 19th century. Originally known as New Spring Gardens, the site was believed to have opened before the Restoration of 1660 with the first mention being made by Samuel Pepys in 1662. 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.

The site became Vauxhall Gardens in 1785 and admission was charged to gain its many attractions. The Gardens drew all manner of men and supported enormous crowds, with its paths being noted for romantic assignations. Tightrope walkers, hot air balloon ascents, concerts and fireworks provided amusement. The rococo "Turkish tent" became one of the Gardens' structures, the interior of the Rotunda became one of Vauxhall's most viewed attractions, and the chinoiserie style was a feature of several buildings. A statue depicting George Frederic Handel was erected in the Gardens, which later found its way to Westminster Abbey. In 1817, the Battle of Waterloo was re-enacted with 1,000 soldiers participating.

Vauxhall Gardens was located in Kennington on the south bank of the River Thames, which was not part of the built-up area of the metropolis until towards the end of the Gardens' existence. Part of the site is now a small public park called Spring Gardens. Vauxhall was closed in 1840 after its owners suffered bankruptcy, but re-opened in 1841. It changed hands in 1842, and was permanently closed in 1859.

Read more about Vauxhall GardensCultural Significance, History, The Spring Gardens and The Rococo in England, The Experience, Further Reading

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