War hero, trick-rider, entrepreneur with a flair for PR, the Lambeth-based Philip Astley was all of these things and more. Jonathan Tyers put Vauxhall on the map when, between 1729 and 1750 he made Vauxhall Gardens the world’s most famous open-air resort. Astley (1742–1814) is the father of the modern circus. He began giving equestrian […]
It’s a shame that orchid-lovers cannot leave a bouquet on the precise spot where rests Lambeth’s peerless watercolourist and illustrator Nellie Roberts. Flowers could and should be be left at Nellie’s grave in gratitude for all the beauty that this watercolorist’s brush captured during her 56-year career as an illustrator for the Royal Horticultural Society, […]
It may not be easy to see spacecraft from Vauxhall, but many’s the astronaut that’s been spotted on the South Lambeth Road having a last drag on a cigarette before entering the British Interplanetary Society HQ at Numbers 27–29 on the corner with Langley Lane. Indeed, writes space historian and Fellow of the Society Dr […]
More people, especially school students, now visit the Great War battleground-cemeteries of the French/Belgian border country than at any time since the Armistice a century ago. Many of these youngsters are older than some of the ‘men’ who fought and sometimes died there (write Naomi Clifford and Ross Davies). One of the lucky ‘men’ was […]
Letitia Sage was an actress who on 29 June 1785 at St George’s Fields, as Sharon Wright writes, became the first Englishwoman to fly.
This year the architects and town-planners Rolfe Judd celebrate the 50th anniversary of the practice, and have marked the event by illuminating the façade of Old Church Court, their premises in Claylands Road. Who was the architect of this former Congregational chapel isn’t clear, but according to the edited extract of the Rolfe Judd article […]
There’s fascinating information about 18th-century Lambeth to be found in A Georgian Heroine by genealogists/historians Joanne Major and Sarah Murden. Not the least of it is the little-known story of a Vauxhall woman with a long name and a life story well-nigh incredible. Thus far, no portrait known to be of Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs has been […]
Vauxhall History co-editor Naomi Clifford’s The Murder of Mary Ashford: The Crime That Changed English Legal History (Pen & Sword, 30 May 2018) presents new evidence in a notorious 200-year-old case of rape and murder which changed English legal history, leading to the abolition of ‘trial by battle’ as a means of settling murder cases. […]
There’s an hour-long get-together at Lambeth Archives on Tuesday 13 March, kick-off 6pm, on what you can do to help restore, research and display some long-unseen Victorian and early 20th century memorials. They came from churches demolished in the 1980s and have languished in the basement of the Carnegie Library ever since. Now there’s Heritage […]
Curiosity Corner: The first in our occasional series of notes on the odd and the by-the-way in a bustling and historic part of London. An Employee Accident Book dating back half a century has come to light in a corner of a former builder’s yard in Oval.
by VauxhallHistory.org online editor Naomi Clifford. On his way to the gallows at Kennington Common, Jeremiah Lewis Abershaw did what many a condemned felon had done before him: during the mile-long journey from Horsemonger Gaol in Newington to the gallows he played to the crowd. Abershaw travelled to his agonising death on Monday 3 August […]
Historian, community activist and blogger, and former project worker in the area Sean Creighton leads South Lambeth Road Stories, a free guided Vauxhall Society/Vauxhall History walk which kicks off from the Tate South Lambeth Library at 180 South Lambeth Rd, Vauxhall, London SW8 1QP at 10.30am on Saturday 10 February. There is the story of […]
Vauxhall, or ‘Voho’ in estate-agent’s patter (the ‘Soho’ of the south bank), attracts gay people both as a place to live and for the clubs and bars that surround the site of what was once the Vauxhall Gardens open-air resort (1661–1858). One notable event in the history both of the Gardens and of the capital’s […]
The Duchy of Cornwall owns much of Vauxhall and Kennington, which makes the local landlord HRH Charles, Prince of Wales. One of the royal heir’s other titles is Duke of Cornwall. The first Duke was a Vauxhall resident as well as landlord. This is short-lived warrior Edward of Woodstock (1330–1376), who was invested as Prince […]
Hands up anybody who knows where to find the plaque that commemorates the spot in Vauxhall where Vauxhall Motors started? Lifelong Vauxhall car-owner Peter Fitchett didn’t know and, planning to see the plaque on a visit to Vauxhall, the Cheltenham-based fan contacted The Vauxhall Society/Vauxhall History. Today’s plaque, installed in September 2016, is so hard […]
‘She’s always here soon after 6.30 [a.m.],’ says Bertie of one customer, ‘to buy her own breakfast. And it’s always the same thing she wants, “One-pound-of-streaky-and-five-sausages.”‘ ‘Here’ is Brixton Street Market, in Mary Benedetta’s 1936 book Street Markets of London (London: John Miles Ltd). Benedetta’s book covers over 30 street markets in Lambeth and beyond, […]
The Doulton fairytale panels in the South Wing corridor of St Thomas’ Hospital get star billing in issue 22 (2017) of the GIST, the Guy’s and St Thomas’s magazine ‘History Corner’ feature. Margaret Thompson and William Rowe’s panels, made a short walk away at the Doulton factory in Vauxhall, once brightened up the two children’s […]
In the 18th century (and until 1859), Vauxhall Gardens was home to an outdoor organ so mighty that it could be heard throughout the 11-acre open-air pleasure resort, and no doubt beyond. The organ could certainly have been heard at St Peter’s Church in Kennington Lane, had St Peter’s been there at the time, which it […]
The Walcot Foundation gives away an average of £1.8 million a year ‘for the relief of the Lambeth poor’. The charity has been around for 350 years, established by the 1667 will of a wealthy haberdasher, Edmund Walcott (his surname originally had two ‘t’s), who endowed it with 17 acres of what was then […]
Jon Newman’s River Effra, South London’s Secret Spine is lavishly-illustrated, deeply-researched and, above all, grippingly-readable – a landmark work, the first detailed and comprehensive account of the Effra.
The Thames in Textiles: these six takes on London’s river from Morley College’s MADE2016 exhibition are by Kerry Crofton, Ann Nash, Pam Howett, Alison Tyler, Megan Doolittle and Martha Crouch. With thanks to Janet Vaux, Editor, Morley Magazine
A brief history of local inundation.
The 20-year-old Van Gogh lasted only a year in Stockwell before leaving his digs in 87 Hackford Road (1873), it’s said, because he was getting nowhere with Eugenie Loyer, the landlady’s daughter. The painter seems to have left behind just the one ‘Van Gogh’, a sketch of the house that was not accepted as by […]
Somme veterans eyewitness accounts have been donated to the Imperial War Museum by supporters of Felix Fund in memory of the former CEO, the late Holly Angharad Davies BEM, a one-time resident of Vauxhall.
Alyson Wilson tells us about Clapham Through Time, a collection of photographs of Clapham past shown beside the same view shot in 2015 by Claire Fry.
The Tate South Lambeth Library, the gift of a Victorian well-wisher, and now a vibrant cultural centre with deep roots in today’s Vauxhall, is the target of repeated threats from Lambeth Councillors
Fifties hit-parading pianist Winifred Atwell opened a salon in Brixton that may have been the very first for black women in this country. Winifred and her salon are long gone, but what about its saucy murals?
Vauxhall students in search of a project could do worse than delve into the short life of Arthur Hutson, only son of Arthur and Annie Jane who lived at 28 Hayter Road, Brixton.
Vauxhall History brings you an opportunity to rediscover the extraordinary murals at Morley College.
An exhibition of prints and drawings by Virginia Powell at Slaughterhaus Print Studio until Sunday 24 April
Conductor and harpsichordist Bridget Cunningham on how she came to record Handel at Vauxhall.
Malcolm Green was there in the 60s and 70s when the Council demolished more streets of Victorian terraced houses than the Luftwaffe – all to make way for soulless, isolating high-rise flats, desolate and dangerous open spaces resulting in widespread social breakdown.
The establishment of The Vauxhall Society in 1969
The tragic end of the balloon enthusiast who attempted a parachute descent
At the heart of Dr Johnson’s connections with this celebrated London pleasure resort, there lies a mystery, and behind that mystery lurks an enigma.
Roger Johnson, editor of The Sherlock Holmes Journal, on the spoor of the sleuth and his ever-faithful Watson in these parts
John Maynard Keynes, later Lord Keynes (1883–1946) has the distinction of having a branch of economics named after him. Keynes’ name is sometimes mentioned in another connection, that of his many, many sexual partners, the sculptor and painter Duncan Grant for example. Another partner is identified only (by Keynes himself) as the ‘Lift boy of […]
The Vauxhall branch of the Richardson family brick-making firm made a notable contribution to the foundations of what is now the Kia Oval cricket ground.
David Toothill, founder of Southbank Mosaics, on their work supporting homeless people and young people in trouble with the law and on projects for Network Rail.
Added 13 June 2015 By David Coke The extraordinary commercial success of the re-launched Vauxhall Gardens in the middle of the 18th century encouraged other entrepreneurs to believe they could imitate it. Pleasure Gardens mushroomed all over London, around Great Britain, and then throughout the world. Most of these lesser ‘Vauxhalls’ were short-lived and, frankly, […]
The dramatic rescue of Vauxhall’s Gilbert Bayes Frieze from the demolition of Doulton House…as it happens The Vauxhall Society is grateful to Paul Atterbury for permission to publish his account of the the rescue and subsequent restoration of the Gilbert Bayes ceramic frieze ‘Pottery Through the Ages’ as well as his contemporaneous notes on the […]
Miriam Al Jamil has kindly given The Vauxhall Society her 2013 King’s College, London dissertation on how children are portrayed in the art of Vauxhall Gardens and in that of the Foundling Hospital*. *© Miriam Al Jamil Among the many fascinating insights Al Jamil explores is the role of this tiny Vauxhall Gardens copper ‘season […]
By Sarah Bridger A terracotta statue of Henry Fawcett, which was unveiled on Wednesday 7th June 1893 by the Archbishop of Canterbury in Vauxhall Park, mysteriously vanished in late 1959. It was designed by the celebrated Victorian sculptor George Tinworth, and donated by Sir Henry Doulton. The statue has not had a confirmed sighting since […]
At one time or another English soapstone has been mined in Cornwall, Cumbria, Derbyshire and Somerset. In 1751 a licence to mine soaprock was taken out by Nicholas Crisp of London, a jeweller, and John Sanders of Lambeth, a potter, and by 1752 nearly 30 tons had been used by this licence. The soft paste […]
Vincent van Gogh moved to London in May 1873 at the age of 20 and lived intermittently in the city until 1876. During this time he is known to have visited, and written about, several of the Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibitions, Christie’s and iconic sites including St Paul’s Cathedral and Hampton Court. He also […]
Arthur Rackham was born at 210 South Lambeth Road on 19th September 1867. He came from a big family, his mother Annie having 11 other children though not all survived childhood. He was educated at the City of London School and showed a natural aptitude for art and drawing. In 1884 Arthur became an insurance […]
Dr Annie McCall, L.R.Q.C.P. (Ireland) and L.M., MD Berne (1859-1949), was born in Manchester and had an international education – Gottingen Germany, Paris, Berne and Vienna as well as the London School of Medicine for Women. She qualified in 1885 and was one of the first 50 women doctors. Her interests included midwifery and tuberculosis. […]
The remains of the oldest prehistoric bridge in Britain have been found at Vauxhall about 100m upstream from the outflow from the River Effra. The bridge suggests that their was a significant settlement nearby. The discovery of the two lines of oak posts date to between 1750BC and 1285BC (the middle Bronze Age). It is […]
John Dwight Doulton, sometimes called the father of English pottery, took out patents in 1671 for stoneware of the type previously imported from Cologne (Cologne ware). He set up a pottery in Fulham, which was then just a small village near London. John Doulton was born in Fulham in 1793 and completed his apprenticeship at […]
Lilian Baylis was born in London into a family that ran a concert party, the Gypsy Revellers. In 1891 the family emigrated to South Africa where Baylis worked as a teacher of music and dance. When she returned to London in 1989 she jointly ran the Royal Victoria Coffee Music Hall in London (a temperance […]
This corn mill was erected by Matthew Boulton, with the backing of City financiers, at the foot of Blackfriars Bridge in 1786. Matthew was an entrepreneur and the business partner of James Watt and the mill provided an ideal opportunity to use their steam engines for grinding the corn and all the associated handling of […]