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Monday, 25 March 2019

Finding your way around Vauxhall Gardens in Regency London

The Orchestra at Vauxhall from London Pleasure  Gardens of the 18th Century by W & AE Wroth (1896)
The Orchestra at Vauxhall from London Pleasure
 Gardens of the 18th Century by W & AE Wroth (1896)
Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens were a fashionable outdoor entertainment during the Georgian era. You can find out what the gardens were like in my earlier blog: Vauxhall Gardens in the Regency. 

When setting a scene in Vauxhall, I have found it helpful to know my way around the pleasure gardens and to know what features would have been present at different times. The rest of this blog post is based on my research.

Vauxhall from T Rowlandson's drawing from London
 Pleasure Gardens of the 18th Century 
 by W & AE Wroth (1896)
The layout of the gardens

The picture below is from an engraving dated 1751, but the layout of the gardens would have been much the same in the Regency period. I have worked out where different features are in the print and where I think future features were, based on the ground plans in Coke and Borg (see bibliography). The numbering is my interpretation and hopefully is a reasonable representation of where things were.

Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751
from South London by W Besant (1899)
A visitor entered (2) the gardens through the proprietor’s house (1) which opened onto the Grand Walk (3), with the Rotunda (4) and Pillared Saloon (5) on the left and the Grove (6) with the Orchestra (7) on the right and the Grand South Walk (8) beyond, and the Druid’s or Lover’s Walk (9) beyond that. The Dark Walk (10) is at the edge of the garden furthest from the entrance.

Below is the same annotated print split into three vertically to show more detail and make the numbers more visible.

Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751  from South London by W Besant (1899) - left section
Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751
from South London by W Besant (1899) - left section
Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751  from South London by W Besant (1899) - middle section
Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751
from South London by W Besant (1899) - middle section
Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751  from South London by W Besant (1899) - far right section
Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751
from South London by W Besant (1899) - right section
Key to the map
  1. The Proprietor’s House
  2. The original entrance through the Proprietor’s House with the Water Gate outside it. This remained the nearest entrance for visitors who came by boat.
  3. The Grand Walk
  4. The Rotunda

    The Rotunda at Vauxhall 1752 from London Pleasure  Gardens of the 18th Century by W & AE Wroth (1896)
    The Rotunda at Vauxhall 1752 from London Pleasure
     Gardens of the 18th Century by W & AE Wroth (1896)
  5. The Pillared Saloon
  6. The Grove

    Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751 from South London  by W Besant (1899) - cropped to the Grove
    Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751 from South London
     by W Besant (1899) - close up to show the Grove
  7. The Orchestra – this is the original in the 1751 print, with the Organ Room behind. The Gothic Orchestra was built in the same place.

    Vauxhall Gardens from The Microcosm of London (1808-10)
    Vauxhall Gardens from The Microcosm of London (1808-10)
  8. The Grand South Walk
  9. The Druids or Lovers Walk
  10. The Dark Walk
  11. The Prince’s Pavilion
  12. The Gothic Piazza
  13. The Handel Piazza
  14. The Chinese Temples and Arcade

    The Chinese Pavilion, Vauxhall from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
    The Chinese Pavilion, Vauxhall
    from Old and New London by E Walford (1878)
  15. The Cascade - you can read about the Cascade here: The Cascade at Vauxhall Gardens
  16. The Turkish Tent
  17. Supper-boxes

    The Chinese temples and arcade with supper-boxes, Vauxhall   from an engraving dated 1751 from South London by W Besant (1899)
    The Chinese temples and arcade with supper-boxes, Vauxhall
    from an engraving dated 1751 from South London by W Besant (1899)
  18. Triumphal Arches

    Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751 from South London   by W Besant (1899) - close up to show triumphal arches
    Vauxhall Gardens from an engraving dated 1751 from South London
     by W Besant (1899) - close up to show triumphal arches
  19. Site of an outdoor painting or transparency, and later of the Firework Tower
  20. The Hermitage – the walk parallel to the Grand Walk leading to it became known as Hermits Walk.
  21. Site of an outdoor painting or transparency, and later of the Submarine Cave
  22. The Ballet Theatre or Rope-Dancing Theatre
  23. The Octagon Rooms
  24. The Centre Cross Walk
  25. The Prince’s Gallery and Ante-Room or Long Room (behind the Handel Piazza)
  26. The Grand Chinese Entrance
  27. The Coach Gate onto Kennington Lane was to the right of this
  28. The Necessary House was to the left of this, at the corner of the gardens
  29. The Supper Room or Saloon or Ballroom was attached to the Rotunda - known by 1814 as the Promenade Room or Turkish Saloon
Some of the more important changes between 1751 and 1830 were:
  • The original Orchestra and Organ Building were demolished in 1757-8 and replaced by the Gothic Orchestra.
  • A new entrance was added onto Kennington Lane around 1762 and this was rebuilt with waiting rooms and cloakrooms in 1786. This is sometimes called the Coach Gate (to the right of 27).
  • 1769 The Covered Walks were created by erecting a canopy over the parts of the Grand Walk (3) and Grand South Walk (8) within the Grove (6) with an awning between them (in front of the supper-boxes behind 16) which covered the new dancing area.
  • 1785 The ice house was built (behind the Pillared Saloon (5)).
  • 1786 The Supper Room was built (29).
  • 1791 The Prince’s Gallery and Ante Room (25) were built behind the Handel Piazza and these lasted until about 1820.
  • 1810 The Covered Walks were rebuilt with a new vaulted colonnade and the Octagon Rooms added (23).
  • 1813 The Firework Tower was added at the end of the Grand South Walk. This was replaced by the Moorish Tower in 1823 (19).
  • 1813 The Hermitage was built (20).
  • 1822 The Submarine Cavern was added (21).
  • 1823 The Ballet Theatre/Rope-Dancing Theatre was built (22).
  • 1823 The Grand Chinese Entrance onto Kennington Lane opened (26).
  • 1823 The Temple of Arts or Grand Musical Temple opened (near the Coach Gate end of the Lover’s Walk (to the right of 27).
Here is another map of Vauxhall Gardens, based on a survey of 1826. The main difference between this and my annotated map above is that there appears to be a second Octagon Room on the opposite corner of the Grove.
    Map of Vauxhall Gardens in 1826 from London Pleasure   Gardens of the 18th Century by W & AE Wroth (1896)
    Map of Vauxhall Gardens in 1826 from London Pleasure
     Gardens of the 18th Century by W & AE Wroth (1896)
    Key to Map of Vauxhall Gardens in 1826 from London Pleasure   Gardens of the 18th Century by W & AE Wroth (1896)
    Sources used include:
    Ackermann, Rudolph and Combe, William, The Microcosm of London or London in miniature Volume 3 (Rudolph Ackermann 1808-1810, reprinted 1904)
    Besant, Walter, South London (1899)
    Coke, David and Borg, Alan, Vauxhall Gardens, a history (2011)
    Feltham, John, The Picture of London for 1810 (1810)
    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement and Instruction (1830)
    Walford, Edward, Old and New London: A narrative of its history, its people, and its places (Cassell, Petter & Galpin, 1878, London) Vol 6
    Wroth, Warwick and Wroth, Arthur Edgar, The London Pleasure Gardens of the eighteenth century (1896)

    5 comments:

    1. That's really useful. Thanks!

      ReplyDelete
    2. Wonderful information, Rachel! Thanks for sharing the results of your research. So much time and effort!

      ReplyDelete
    3. What a great resource. Thank you so much, Rachel, for the details which have made Vauxhall so alive.

      ReplyDelete
    4. A wonderful resource! Thank you for compiling and publishing it.

      ReplyDelete