Tuesday, September 10, 2013

NHG Library features Vauxhall Gardens: A History

Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Loretta reports:

I’ve been wanting to write about this book ever since I bought it.  The trouble is, we try to keep these posts short, and it’s hard (for me, at any rate) to keep from raving endlessly.  In a nutshell, Vauxhall Gardens: a History, is a wonderfully exhaustive study of Lambeth's famous pleasure gardens, from their beginnings in 1661 as the New Spring Gardens to their demise 200 years later.

Since I hadn't needed to research it, what I knew about Vauxhall was mainly what I’d gleaned from reading traditional Regency romances.  I've now learned how much more Vauxhall had to offer in the Regency than taking chances with rakes in dark walks or eating thin ham or dancing at a masquerade.

Here’s a description of the first Vauxhall appearance of Madame Saqui, the tight and slack rope performer, in 1816:

"[She ascended] to a considerable elevation, and running with wonderful velocity upon a rope extending half down one of the walks, in the face of a tempest of fireworks, and a change of blue lights, which suddenly converted the shades of evening to the brightness of noon.”

The book includes an evocative illustration of this feat amid the "tempest of fireworks."  You'll find as well engravings of other garden attractions, like the Submarine Cave, balloon ascents (and catastrophes), fetes, and performers.  Among other wonderful images is Louis Jullien holding an umbrella while he sings for a packed audience, all under umbrellas.  As is the orchestra.
View online here

If you want to learn about all the “modern” art that was on display, or see what a season ticket looked like, or learn when Paganini played there, or find out when the Hermitage finally got its hermit, this is the book for you.  The appendices offer the kinds of minutiae Nerdy History Persons dote upon:  detailed catalog of the paintings and what became of them, a chronology of important events, and—be still my heart—maps of the gardens, with locations of various buildings and features, for 1742, 1751, 1818, and 1850.

With the book’s help, I was able to locate some of the images, which you can find on our Pinterest Pages here, hereand here.

Vauxhall broadside courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 US


Hels said...

I fancy myself as a person who would like to be seeking and enjoying quality leisure time. But it is WAY cheaper to be writing and lecturing about leisure ... thus at least making relevant history books a justifiable tax deduction :)

So yes, I read the Coke and Borg book and like you, enjoyed it very much. But your Pinterest Pages are terrific. I will add a link to my post straight away,


Shelley Munro said...

This is such a great book. I found it really interesting and learned a lot!

Catherine Curzon said...

A wonderful book - you won't regret it!

Isobel Carr said...

I love this book, but I was horrified to discover the Dark Walk was gone by the late 18thC!

Miss Littlefield said...

Vauxhall Gradens book looks enchanting. I have a fascination with gardens. I just wish it was cheaper.

~Miss Littlefield

Frances Bevan said...

Definitely one for the wish list.

David Coke said...

I'm overwhelmed, and delighted to have given pleasure to so many people. Thanks, Loretta, for the lovely review. Sorry it's so expensive, Miss Littlefield, but if I'd had my way it would have been several volumes, and much more money! - you've actually got off quite lightly at £55. So much had to be cut out, but a little of that is on my VG website.
David (Coke).

Cynthia Lambert said...

What you may not know is that America had its own Vauxhall Gardens, right in New York City. It was on the East Side, not far from Washington Square. I have seen tickets to it, when I worked at a museum nearby. In the 19th century, American money was not standardized, and it cost a few shillings to get in. Hard to believe now that New Yorkers were paying shillings to get into Vauxhall Gardens.

patsy said...

I recently featured Vauxhall Gardens in a book. I wish I had access to David's book when I was researching.
I acquired my information from Wikipedia.
I became so involved in it that my editor cut a lot out saying although it was interesting, you can have too much of a good thing.
Does anyone else want to get hold of a time machine and visit these places?

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