Vauxhall Gardens was an open-air resort and the English climate being what it is, there had to be an ‘if wet, indoors’ option. This was The Rotunda, which opened in 1748, offering concerts and exhibitions as well as shelter. Pulled down when the gardens closed in 1859, The Rotunda rose again in 2019 as a […]
David E. Coke on C.H. Simpson, one of Vauxhall’s great historic characters.
Vauxhall Gardens drew visitors from around the world in its 18th-century prime, not least to see Roubiliac’s sensational statue. Pale imitations sprang up elsewhere in England, and as far away as America, Australia and Russia. None could quite match Jonathan Tyers’ Vauxhall Gardens for originality and crowd-pulling spectacle with a purpose. Tyers helped civilise this […]
by David E. Coke Amongst the many extraordinary facts about 19th century London, one stands out as almost unbelievable – an urban myth, you might think. How could the world record for manned-flight distance possibly have been set by a flight from Vauxhall – in 1836, the year before Queen Victoria came to the throne? Yet […]
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 […]
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 […]
Conductor and harpsichordist Bridget Cunningham on how she came to record Handel at Vauxhall.
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.
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, […]
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 […]
As soon as the great pleasure garden of Vauxhall Gardens closed its doors for the final time after the ‘Last Night Forever’ on 25 July 1859, the twelve-acre site was cleared of all traces of the entertainments that had stood on that spot since the Restoration. One of the reasons why Vauxhall closed when it […]
By 1821 Vauxhall Gardens had lost their lustre. Takings were down, and the attractions had become stale. Cash-strapped customers were getting less value for money from their food and drink. ‘ Supper was a perfect abomination,’ recalled Lord William Lennox, military aide to the Duke of Wellington. Fortunately, an entrepreneur who had pioneered modern advertising […]
David Coke and Alan Borg, Vauxhall Gardens, A History. Yale University Press, London, 2011. ISBN 978-0-300-17382-6 Not long back, two curious columns sprang up at the southern entrance to Vauxhall Spring Gardens, the modern and, let’s be honest, pathetic equivalent to the celebrated Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. As readers may know, these fat, black, shiny monoliths […]
by David Coke The history of the music of Vauxhall Gardens represents the development of a purely English style from the time of John Playford, John Blow and the early works of Henry Purcell, through to Felix Mendelssohn’s great oratorio Elijah. It can be argued that the pleasure gardens single-handedly fostered and maintained the English […]
Carl Friedrich ABEL1723-1787MusicianPlayed with J. C. Bach in the Gardens. Dr Thomas ARNE1710-1778ComposerWorked regularly played in the Gardens. Best known for ‘Rule, Britannia’ Johann Christian BACH1735-1782Music MasterWrote songs for and played in the Gardens Sir Henry Rowley BISHOP1786-1855ComposerMusical Director? James BOSWELL1740-1795WriterBoswell commented, ‘Vauxhall Gardens is peculiarly adapted to the taste of the English nation; there […]
Some Mesolithic (8300-4000 BC) flint blades together with some Neolithic (4000-1800BC) pottery shards were found at an archaeological dig on a site directly opposite Vauxhall Park in South Lambeth Road. The site of a prehistoric bridge dating to between 1750BC and 1285BC has recently found near Vauxhall Bridge, which suggests that the area had a […]
1745 – Larkhall is in the middle area of John Rocque’s map. The map matches extremely well with the location of Larkhall Park on modern maps, if you take the road between the ‘Lark’ and the ‘Hall’ as modern Priory Grove. John Rocque’s Exact Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, the Borough of Southwark, […]
Juba, also known as Master Juba, was born William Henry Lane in 1825 in Mississippi, a free black man. As a teenager Juba grew up in the Five Points district of New York City and was influenced by the well-known black saloon dancer “Uncle” Jim Lowe. Lowe, best known for his jigs and reels, initially […]
English balloonist whose outstanding achievement was his flight with two companions in 1836 from Vauxhall Gardens, London, to Weilburg, Germany, a distance of 480 miles. Green’s 18-hour trip set a long-distance balloon record for flights from England not beaten until 1907. He was accompanied on the flight by Monck Mason and Robert Hollond, who financed […]
by David Coke Of all the correspondence that I receive about Vauxhall Gardens, some of the most memorable comes from descendants of the people who performed or sang at the gardens. Striking among these are the descendants of firework-makers, of whom Vauxhall employed a dozen or more between 1798, when the first regular displays started, […]
Balloons have been about for centuries. Archimedes, using his famous principle, proposed the use of balloons around 250BC but it is not known if he experimented with this idea. Small hot air balloons were used for open air lighting by the Chinese in 170 AD. In 1513 Leonardo da Vinci also got hot air balloons […]
Under Charles II public entertainments were once more became fashionable and England strove to outdo the extravagances of the court of Charles’s French cousin Louis XIV. In 1661 the famous garden at Vaux-le-Visconte, designed by Andre Le Notre, was opened with a fete in honour of the young king, and in the same year the […]