Friday, October 11, 2019

1700s Vauxhall Chronology

Vauxhall Gardens was a public pleasure garden on the south bank of the River Thames accessed by boat from London until the erection of Vauxhall Bridge in the 1810s. It was one of the leading venues for public entertainment in London, from the mid-17C-mid-19C. Originally known as "New Spring Gardens," the site is believed to have opened before the Restoration of 1660, with the 1st known mention being made by Samuel Pepys in 1662. The then name distinguished the gardens from the Old Spring Gardens at Charing Cross; however Pepys implies that there were both Old & New Spring Gardens at Vauxhall. Spring Gardens appears to have been a longstanding appellation for a variety of entertainment enterprises. The Gardens consisted of several acres of trees & shrubs with attractive walks. Initially entrance was free, with food & drink being sold to support the venture. The new name Vauxhall Gardens, long in popular use, was made official in 1785, & admission was charged for its many attractions. The Gardens drew all manner of people & supported enormous crowds, with its sheltered paths being noted for romantic assignations. Tightrope walkers, hot-air balloon ascents, concerts, & fireworks provided entertainment. The rococo "Turkish tent" became one of the Gardens' structures, the interior of the Rotunda became one of Vauxhall's most viewed attractions, & the chinoiserie style was a feature of several buildings. It closed in 1840, after its owners suffered bankruptcy, but re-opened in 1841. It changed hands in 1842, & was permanently closed in 1859.
Vauxhall A General Prospect of Vaux Hall Gardens, by Johann Sebastian Muller (John Miller), Bowles & Carver, publisher.

Vauxhall Gardens in the 1700s

1702  16 April: Birth of Jonathan Tyers

1710 Z. C. von Uffenbach visit—'avenues and covered walks . . . and green huts'

1712  20 May: Spectator article

1717 Date on leadwork of the proprietor's house, with initials PHH for Philemon and Hannah Hill.

1722 Jonathan Tyers marries Elizabeth Fermor

1729 Jonathan Tyers the elder becomes Proprietor of Vauxhall Gardens

1729 17 March: Date on Jonathan Tyers's lease from Elizabeth Masters, widow, at £250 p.a. for 30 years. Tyers was already in occupation of the Old Spring Garden

1729 Gardens described by Pierre Jacques Fougeroux

1730 Date on Hogarth's supper-box painting Night

1731/2  12 March: Tyers's first known advertisement for brewers etc.

1732  Wednesday 7 June: The re-launch with a Ridotto al' Fresco

1734 Mr. & Mrs. Tyers buy the Denbies estate, with 80 acres of land, also lease 250 acres nearby

1735 3 June: Orchestra building unveiled

1736 Season runs from Wednesday 19 May to Saturday 21 August
  Ordinary tickets withdrawn, but one shilling entrance charge instituted (until 1792)

1737 Monday 2 May: Season opens   Organ Building installed behind orchestra
  First recorded issue of season tickets at 1 guinea
 
1738 Season runs from Monday 1 May until Saturday 19 August
   26 April: Roubiliac's statue of Handel 'carried over the water, to be put up in Vaux-Hall Gardens'
 
1739 1 May: Season opens   Supper-box paintings mostly complete Carillon added to organ

1740 Hayman group portrait of Tyers family   Season tickets cost £1. 5s.

1741/2 Turkish Tent built
 
1742  5 April: Ranelagh Gardens opens

1743 Engravings after supper-box paintings published
 
1745 Hayman's Shakespearean scenes  Dr. Arne appointed director of music  Vocal music introduced as a regular part of the evening's program

1746 Prosperous season at Vauxhall following the defeat of the Jacobites at Culloden (16 April)
 
1748 Season open on (or by) 18 May  Season Tickets cost 2 guineas   Rotunda building completed

1749  21 April: Rehearsal of Handel's Fireworks Music
 
1750 Pillared Saloon
 
1751 Monday 20 May: Season opens 
 
1752 Jonathan Tyers purchases half of the estate of Vauxhall Gardens from George Dodington for £3,800   The original Cascade is installed
  The Provisions of 25 Geo II, c.36 come into force, requiring the licensing of all places of public entertainment within 20 miles of the City and Westminster, in effect leaving Vauxhall, Ranelagh and Marylebone Gardens with a virtual monopoly
 
1753 8 May: Season opens 

1754 "Mr. Tyers has had the ruins of Palmyra painted in the manner of the scenes so as to deceive the eye and appear buildings"

1758 The new Gothic orchestra unveiled   Robert Adam commissioned to build a Temple of Venus at a cost of £5,000   Tyers completes the purchase of the estate from Mr. Atkins and Mrs. Jennings

1761 First of Hayman's paintings for the Pillared Saloon.
   
1762 Anon, A Description of Vaux-Hall Gardens, published by S. Hooper
  Ostenaco, a Cherokee chief, and a group of Indians, visit Vauxhall with Henry Timberlake
  
1763 Thursday 19 May: Season opens

1764 Completion of Hayman's four paintings for the Pillared Saloon
  Tyers fences the dark walks; following destruction of the fences (and other extensive vandalism), he introduces lighting instead

1765 Thursday 29 August: Season concludes with a masquerade, attended by up to 5,000 guests
  
1766 Season of bad weather opens by 19 May. Tyers makes a £3,000 loss over the year

1767  26 June: Death of Jonathan Tyers at Vauxhall After death of Jonathan Tyers the elder, the ownership of Vauxhall Gardens passes to Elizabeth, his widow and management is passed to a family partnership with Jonathan Tyers the younger in charge

1768  13 May: Season opens    17 August: King of Denmark visits Vauxhall
  Vauxhall Gardens on the market at £60,000

1769   Grand refurbishment of the gardens, at a cost of £5,000, including a canopy over the Grand walk (completed the year before) 
  
1771 Death of Elizabeth Tyers, leaving the gardens to her four children, Thomas, Elizabeth,Margaret and Jonathan the younger. Management stays with Jonathan the younger.

1771 17 May: Season opens

1772 James Hook appointed principal keyboard player and composer

1773  20 May: Season opens     23 July: The 'Vauxhall Affray' 

1777 A wet summer in London

1779  17 May: Season opens Monday 

1781 Season Thursday 17 May–24 August    25 June: Sailing match for the Duke of Cumberland's Cup. Duke and Duchess dine afterwards at the gardens, attracting 11,000 visitors

1783 13 May: Season opens    In an attempt to avoid the usual Last Night riots and damage, the proprietors close without notice in mid-August

1784 Rowlandson's watercolour of Vauxhall exhibited at the Royal Academy

1785 Thomas Tyers, Margaret Rogers and Bryant Barrett cede partnerhip to Jonathan Tyers the younger, Bryant Barrett (his son -in-law) and Elizabeth Wood (Jonathan's sister)

1785  19 May: Season opens    At this time, the Tyers/Rogers/Barrett family own over 45 acres in Vauxhall, including the 11 acres of the Gardens themselves, and up to ninety dwelling-houses, pubs and other buildings

1786 Mon 29 May: Vauxhall Jubilee    Tues 30 May: First military fete   Season opens on 10 June and runs to Tuesday 29 August

1786 Bryant Barrett becomes the sole proprietor and manager of Vauxhall Gardens

1786 First regular advertisements of the music program    Construction of a new entrance in Kennington Lane, sometimes called the 'Coach Gate', with waiting rooms, cloakrooms etc. (first mentioned as an entrance in 1762)

1787 1 February: Thomas Tyers dies unmarried   18 May: Season opens with a Subscription Masquerade    Operating licence granted on condition that the gardens close at midnight on Saturday   Newly-decorated Balloon-rooms opened

1788 Monday 9 June, 5 pm: Sailing cup race, Blackfriars Bridge to Putney and return to Vauxhall Stairs   Sailing transparency shown in the new Promenade Room     'The Vauxhall Jubilee, or Harlequin in the Ball Room' performed at Astley's Amphitheatre

1790 Season Tuesday 18 May–Thursday 26 August

1791 Season Tuesday 17 May–Thursday 25 August   New Supper Room   By 12 August, a new Gothic Temple, decorated with coloured lamps in perpetual motion ('The Moving Temple'), designed by Martinelli

1792 21 March: Death of Jonathan Tyers the younger 

1792 Ownership of Vauxhall Gardens passes to Bryant Barrett, manager and proprietor

1792 Season Thursday 31 May–Monday 27 August   Prince's Gallery (400 ft. long) and Ante-Room built    4 June: Joseph Haydn visits Vauxhall   Admission price raised to two shillings; profit of £5,000 for the season.

1793 Season Thursday 23 May–Thursday 15 August   Proprietors pay £1,000 'Admission fine' to the Duchy of Cornwall to continue lease of the gardens

1794 Decorated Vauxhall Barge on the Thames.   Flockton's 'Drolleries' exhibited

1795 Monday 6 June: Season opens   A Season of bad weather. Tea and coffee discontinued because of high cost

1796 19 May: Gardens opened with a grand Ridotto al Fresco; large temporary saloon for dancing; company in evening dress

1797 Mr. C.H. [Christopher] Simpson Master of Ceremonies (until his death in 1835)

1798 Fireworks first exhibited as a regular feature

For much more, see Vauxhall Gardens, by David E. Coke, Alan Borg, published in 2011 by Yale University Press

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Spas, Wells, & Baths for Health - Dishabrille or New Turnbridge Wells at Islington 1733

Dishabrille or New Turnbridge Wells at Islington by G Bickmam in 1733

This image is atop a sheet of music from 1733.   This song is set to the words of a lyric poem written in 1733 by Mr. Lockman about the popularity of Islington Spa, or New Tunbridge Wells, a pleasure garden in Islington. One of London's smaller pleasure gardens, it was created after the discovery of a spring there in the 1680s. People believed that drinking the spring water would improve their health, and even members of the royal family were said to have tried it. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Spas, Wells, & Baths for Health - Taking the Plunge: 18C Bath Houses & Plunge Pools

Written by Dr Clare Hickman

One of the defining features of contemporary western society is its obsession with health fads, whether in the form of macrobiotic diets or 'sweating it out' in the gym. However, this is an age-old concern and in 18th-century Britain the health craze of the day resulted in the creation of plunge pools and cold baths in houses and gardens across the land. These containers filled with cold water could be located within the main house or within a purpose-built structure set in the landscape, such as a grotto, where they often formed part of a circuit of garden features to be inspected. Although they were often aesthetically pleasing, their main purpose was to help facilitate a healthy way of life, and their placement, particularly when they formed part of a designed landscape, was as important in terms of encouraging good health as a dip in the cold water itself.

The popularity of cold baths and plunge pools in the 18th century followed both the trend for coastal and spa bathing, and the aspiration of a long and healthy life. The 4th Baronet and 2nd Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn, of Wynnstay in Denbighshire, combined sea-bathing with frequent trips to his very own cold bath. This was sited in the grounds of his Welsh estate and represented both the desire to include a classical garden structure within his landscaped park, as well as the desperate search for a cure for the disfiguring and painful skin condition from which he suffered all his life. The baronet’s stone bathing tank was rectangular in form, with elegantly curved steps leading down to it from the bath house itself, which served as an icy changing room. The act of bathing required some Spartan bravery, but then that was all part of the healthy process. Unfortunately for Sir Watkin, despite frequently subjecting himself to the healing powers of the Wynnstay bath, he died of his symptoms on 29 July 1789.(1)
The Corsham Court bath house was originally designed by Lancelot Brown 1761-3 and later remodelled by John Nash at the end of the century. The front is open to three sides giving views across the landscaped grounds.

However, cold baths were not only viewed as a method of curing disease. Throughout the century there was a renewed interest in following a regimen to achieve good health. According to Virginia Smith, ‘between 1700 and 1770 the medical advice book market expanded intermittently but steadily’.(2) The books often described modes of healthy living that, the authors claimed, would extend life expectancy. One of the many types of routine advocated was the cold regimen, which included spending time out of doors, eating cooling foods, taking plenty of exercise and bathing in cold water. One of the great advocates of this regime was the philosopher John Locke. In the 1703 edition of his tract, Some Thoughts on Education, he argued that: Every one is now full of the miracles done by cold baths on decay’d and weak constitutions, for the recovery of health and strength; and therefore they cannot be impracticable or intolerable for the improving and hardening the bodies of those who are in better circumstances.

John Floyer, a Staffordshire doctor, was one of the most high-profile medical men actively promoting cold bathing during this period; his pioneering work, An Enquiry into the Right Use and Abuses of the Hot, Cold and Temperate Baths in England, was published in 1697. Floyer’s belief in cold water was not confined to the written treatise, for in the 1690s he constructed his own small bathing spa, St Chad’s Bath at Unite’s Well, about a mile from Lichfield. The restored remains of the spa are in the grounds of Maple Hayes School, near Lichfield.
The Corsham Court bath house

It is perhaps not surprising that cold baths began to appear in several local gardens soon after. One of the first was constructed at Streethay Manor, north of Lichfield. This is a fascinating moated site with strong Floyer associations, as he was the relative and friend of the family that owned the house, the Pyotts. The remains of a late 17th- or early 18th-century spring-fed, stone-cold plunge bath-house (illustrated below right) can still be found in the grounds, no doubt built with Floyer’s encouragement. It was placed between the house and moat and is now free-standing, but the stone foundations of a wall running parallel to its south side have recently been uncovered, suggesting that the pyramidal-roofed structure might have been the wellhead to a much larger cold bath room.

COLD BATH HOUSES AND POOLS IN THE LANDSCAPE

Plunge pools and cold baths took several different forms. The plunge pool at the Georgian House in Bristol was built within the actual villa in the 1790s by John Pinney, a man who wanted his house filled with all the latest modern conveniences. This reflects a desire to explore new technologies and possibly also later medical theories concerning the need to regulate the temperature of the water into which one plunged – something which could be achieved more easily indoors. Similarly, the late 18th-century plunge pool at Greenway, Devon, was also fully enclosed, although in this case the bath house was situated away from the main house, on the banks of the picturesque River Dart.
The remains of the late 17th or early 18th century bath house at Streethay, Staffordshire, which may well have been designed with advice from cold bathing advocate, John Floyer

Plunge pools at Painswick in Gloucestershire and Stourhead in Wiltshire, on the other hand, are both external, each differing in their placement. The 18th-century plunge pool at Painswick (illustrated near the end of this article) commanded open views across the landscape. At Stourhead, in Wiltshire, the pool was set within an ornamental grotto containing statues and purposely sited to exploit a designed view across the lake. In 1765 Joseph Spence described how the jagged opening was ‘coverable with a sort of Curtain, when you chuse it’, so that the inner darkness could be transformed at the pull of a drape, and plunge pool bathers could be protected from the prying eyes of visitors on the lake’.(3) In fact, the only way to get the view through the grotto opening is to be at the level of someone standing in the cold bath.

So the question arises, why were many cold baths set within the landscape rather than in the house, as in the case of the Georgian House in Bristol? The most obvious reason is that the bath was filled directly from a spring and it would be easier to place the bath near the source. There was also a belief that the water should be as cold as possible so that water straight from a spring would be colder and therefore more effective than water that had been piped some distance. It would also be purer and retain its chemical properties.
The view through the grotto and across the lake that Henry Hoare and his rollicking visitors would have enjoyed in the plunge pool at Stourhead, Wiltshire

However, this is perhaps not the only reason for the location of the bath within the park. Virginia Smith describes how the 18th-century landscape park was a setting for strenuous activity, with its ‘long informal paths that rambled around the estate towards newly built plunge pools, cricket pitches, stables and carriage rides, fishing lakes, archery butts, boatsheds, and carefully placed picnic pavilions’.(4) As today, exercise was certainly highly advocated, with George Cheyne in his 1743 Essay of Health and Long Life arguing that ‘a due Degree of Exercise is indispensably necessary towards Health and Long Life’. He went on to suggest that ‘Walking is the most Natural and effectual Exercise’, and that in particular ‘House Exercises are never to be allow’d, but when the Weather or some Bodily Infirmary will not permit going abroad; for Air contributes mightily to the Benefit of Exercise’.

Therefore, the routine of walking around the landscape in order to reach the bath could be viewed as part of the regimen. Some writers even included walking to and from the cold bath as part of their recommended technique. As late as 1839, James Tunstall in his Popular Observations on Sea-Bathing, and the General Use of the Cold Bath stated that ‘the individual should walk leisurely to the bathing place’ and then on coming out of the water that ‘he should then take moderate exercise – half an hour's walk, or an hour's ride on horseback will add much to the benefit experienced’. As well as the physical exercise achieved by walking to the bath, the viewing of the landscape en route could also have a beneficial effect on the mind.
The statue of Neptune in the grotto at Stourhead

In the case of Stourhead, taking a bath and viewing the landscape simultaneously could be considered as having a direct impact on both the physical and mental states. In Robert Burton’s influential Anatomy of Melancholy (1626) he suggested that:  … the most pleasant of all outward pastimes is … to make a petty progress, a merry journey now and then with some good companions, … to walk amongst orchards, gardens, bowers, mounts, and arbours, artificiall wildernesses, green thickets, arches, groves, lawns, rivulets, fountains and such like pleasant places, …, brooks, pooles, fishponds, betwixt wood and water, in a fair meadow, by a river side…

Likewise, Joseph Addison writing in The Spectator in 1712 states that: Delightful scenes… have a kindly influence on the body, as well as the mind, and not only serve to clear and brighten the imagination, but are able to disperse grief and melancholy, and to set the animal spirits in pleasing and agreeable motions.5 These views suggest that there was a philosophical basis for an 18th-century belief in the concept that gardens and beautiful landscapes had the power to lift the spirits.(5)

In the case of Stourhead, where Henry Hoare took up full time residence in 1741 after a series of bereavements, including that of his son, mother and then his wife in 1743, the garden with its cold bath may well have been designed to help disperse his personal grief and melancholy. He described using the bath in a letter of 1764 during the heat of summer: ‘… a Souse into that delicious Bath and Grot filld with fresh Magic, is Asiatick Luxury & too much for Mortals or at least for Subjects,…’.(6) Professor Timothy Mowl has described how Hoare ‘would bathe here naked with a group of rollicking visitors whom he had met the night before at the hotel built for them in the village, all to the sound of two French horns, playing in near perfect acoustics’.(7) This is all considerably more extravagant than the bracing tonic advocated by Locke and Floyer.
The cold bath house at Bradshaw House in Congleton, Cheshire which has recently been restored. (Photo: Nino Manci, Congleton Building Preservation Trust)

Of course, the landscape surrounding the pools and baths might not always have been enjoyed during the actual immersion. Bath houses often surrounded the pools and thereby partially enclosed the view or blocking it completely, as at Greenway, Devon, and at Bradshaw House in Congleton, Cheshire (above right) where a summer house was placed above a plunge pool. However, these buildings could also provide picturesque incidents within the landscape, whether rustic, as at Wynnstay, or classical, as at Corsham Court in Wiltshire.

 The temperature of the water would also mean that plunge pools and small baths would no doubt have been the scenes of brief activity only. Larger pools, however, would have allowed for swimming, something which Locke and others were very keen to promote. In 1834 Mr Haddon wrote that ‘it will be observed, that as affording opportunity for gentle exercise, and by the more efficacious immersion of the whole person in the water, of the more certain cleansing, re-establishing and invigorating functions of the skin, the swimming bath is mentioned,…’.(8) In this way cold baths, particularly public ones, can perhaps be viewed as precursors of the later fashion for open-air swimming pools and lidos.
Marion Mako standing in the Bradshaw House plunge bath which, miraculously, had survived sufficiently intact for restoration to be possible. It is lined with carefully tooled ashlar stone and there are steps down to the plunge pool. (Photograph: Timothy Mowl)

Another reason for placing the cold bath outside in the landscape seems to relate to the desire to return to a more natural way of life. In terms of garden design, according to Kenneth Woodbridge, ‘behind Addison and Pope was the philosophers’ appeal to a natural order; Shaftesbury’s ‘rude Rocks, the mossy Caverns, the irregular wrought Grottos and broken falls of water with all the horrid Graces of the Wilderness itself’ were valued ‘as representing nature more’.(9) Given this argument, the grotto at Stourhead can be seen to be symbolic of a natural element within the garden, as can Richard Woods’ rustic design for the cold bath at Wardour Castle, Wiltshire, which even had falling water in the form of a cascade running beneath the bath.

Private cold baths were not alone in this relationship to nature. In 1737, John King, an apothecary, wrote a pamphlet expounding the virtues of cold bathing, with particular reference to his spa at Bungay, Suffolk. Towards the end he included a description headed; ‘A few lines transcribed from a Letter to a young lady by a Gentleman at your Bath.’
Richard Woods’ rusticated design for a Cold Bath with cascade and grove of trees for Wardour Castle, Wiltshire, c1766 (By courtesy of Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre: 2667/18/21)

 The letter stated that: Near the bottom of this is placed the Grotto or Bath itself, beautified on one Side with Oziers, Groves and Meadows, on the other with Gardens, Fruits, Shady Walks and all the Decorations of a rural Innocence. The building is delightfully plain and neat, because the least attempt and artful Magnificence, would by alluring the Eyes of Strangers, deprive them of those profuse Pleasures which Nature has already provided.

Again nature seems to play a prominent role. Although the gardens are created through artificial design, like the grotto at Stourhead, they are seen as more natural than the artifice of the bath house.
The mid 18th century plunge pool at Painswick, near Stroud is unenclosed, giving views across the Rococco gardens

This desire for a more natural experience was associated with the knowledge that cold bathing went back to ancient times. Floyer argued that, ‘I publish no new doctrine, but only design to revive the Ancient practice of Physick in using cold baths.’(10) Many of the writers use this historical lineage as evidence of the veracity of cold bathing, and at Painswick the statue of Pan used to stand guard over the cold bath. However, one should perhaps not take this association too literally. Pan could relate to both ideologies; classical and natural. As Robin Price has suggested, the link with antiquity ‘is likely to have been no more than an added and subliminal recommendation to those already wishing to return to the primal simplicity of nature’s laws’.(11) At Stourhead there is a more complex use of classical iconography with statues of the river god and a sleeping nymph behind the cold bath. All of this is complicated still further by the religious meaning found in John Wesley’s advocation of cold bathing and Floyer’s statement that he saw bathing as a baptismal cleansing. These can be seen in correlation to the growing non-conformist movement and, as late as the 1800s, the Quakers running Brislington House, an elite lunatic asylum on the outskirts of Bristol, were using cold baths as a central therapeutic agent in their attempt to cure madness.(12)

There were also concerns over the weakening of health through the indulgence in luxurious lifestyles. Cheyne and Jean-Jacques Rousseau were among those who raised concerns about the link between mental health and the onward march of civilization. Rousseau postulated that as civilization developed, men alienated themselves from nature and that primitive man was superior, and less likely to develop mental illness, because he was closer to his natural state. A dip in the cold bath in a garden setting could, therefore, be considered a method of connecting with an earlier, more primitive, and ultimately healthier, way of life.
The mid 18th century plunge pool at Painswick, near Stroud is unenclosed, giving views across the Rococco gardens where pool-side activities were originally presided over by Jan Van Nost’s magnificent statue of Pan.

 Other writers used examples of the hardiness of other nations to argue in favour of the benefits of cold bathing. Locke wrote: ‘let them examine what the Germans of old, and the Irish now, do to them, and they will find, that infants too, as tender as they are thought, may, without any danger, endure bathing, not only of their feet, but of their whole bodies, in cold water. And there are... ladies in the Highlands of Scotland who use this discipline to their children in the midst of winter, and find that cold water does them no harm, even when there is ice in it.’

This represents an idea of Spartan living and of hardening one’s physical state which is quite different to Henry Hoare’s rollicking in the cold bath at Stourhead. However, the use of all these structures represents the age old search for health and longevity. Among other examples, it is still with us in the form of open-air lidos and the annual Christmas day wintry swim of the Serpentine Swimming Club.

Acknowledgements
With thanks to The Leverhulme Trust (www. leverhulme.ac.uk), without whose generous support through funding The Historic Gardens & Landscapes of England Project, the research for this paper would not have been possible. Thanks also go to Professor Timothy Mowl of Architectural History & Conservation Consultants (www.ahcconsultants.co.uk), and Laura Mayer for reading early drafts and providing helpful suggestions.

Notes
1 Thanks to Laura Mayer for permission to include this element of her doctoral research relating to Wynnstay
2 Smith, 2007
3 Mowl, 2004
4 Smith, 2007
5 The Spectator, 411, 1712
6 Quoted in Woodbridge, 1970
7 Mowl, 2004
8 Anonymous, The Constant Use of the Cold or Swimming Bath of Great Importance in the Prevention of Disease and Preservation of Health, J Haddon, London, 1834
9 Woodbridge, 1970
10 J Floyer, An Enquiry into the Right Use and Abuses of the Hot, Cold and Temperate Baths in England, R Clavel, London, 1697
11 Price, 1981
12 Discussed in its political context in Jenner, 1998

Recommended Reading
• F Cowell, Richard Woods (1715-1793): Master of the Pleasure Garden, Boydell, Woodbridge, 2009
•C Hickman, ‘The “Picturesque” at Brislington House, Bristol: The Role of Landscape in Relation to the Treatment of Mental Illness in the Early 19th-Century Asylum’, Garden History, 33:1, 2005
•M Jenner, ‘Bathing and Baptism: Sir John Floyer and the Politics of Cold Bathing’, Refiguring Revolutions: Aesthetics and Politics from the English revolution to the Romantic Revolution, ed K Sharpe and S Zwicker, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1998
•T Mowl and D Barre, The Historic Gardens of England: Staffordshire, Redcliffe, Bristol, 2009
• T Mowl, Historic Gardens of Wiltshire, Tempus, Stroud, 2004
•R Price, ‘Hydrotherapy in England, 1840–70’, Medical History, 25, 1981
• V Smith, Clean: A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity, OUP, Oxford, 2007
• K Woodbridge, Landscape and Antiquity: Aspects of English Culture at Stourhead, 1718 to 1838, Clarendon, Oxford, 1970

Dr Clare Hickman is a historian with an interest in the connections between landscape design and medical practice. She was awarded her doctorate from the University of Bristol for her thesis: ‘Vis Medicatrix Naturae: the Design and Use of Landscapes in England for Therapeutic Purposes Since 1800’.  Before becoming a Research Facilitator for Oxford University, she worked as a Research Assistant on the Leverhulme Trust funded Historic Gardens & Landscapes of England project at the University of Bristol. She won the first Garden History Society Essay Prize in 2005 for her article on the gardens surrounding the psychiatric institution, Brislington House in Bristol. Manchester University Press. 2013 Therapeutic Landscapes: A History of English Hospital Gardens Since 1800.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

1667 Samuel Pepys visits Spring Gardens/Vauxhall

Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) painted by J. Hayls (1600-1679) in 1666 

From Samuel Pepys Diary, May 1667,

"A great deal of company, and the weather and garden pleasant: and it is very pleasant and cheap going thither, for a man may go to spend what he will, or nothing, all as one. But to hear the nightingale and other birds, and hear fiddles, and there a harp, and here a Jew's trump, and here laughing, and there fine people walking, is mighty divertising. Among others, there were two pretty women alone, that walked a great while, which being discovered by some idle gentlemen, they would needs take them up; but to see the poor ladies how they were put to it to run from them, and they after them, and sometimes the ladies put themselves along with other company, then the other drew back; at last, the last did get off out of the house, and took boat and away. I was troubled to see them abused so; and could have found in my heart, as little desire of fighting as I have, to have protected the ladies."

Vauxhall Gardens was a public pleasure garden on the south bank of the River Thames accessed by boat from London until the erection of Vauxhall Bridge in the 1810s. It was one of the leading venues for public entertainment in London, from the mid-17C-mid-19C. Originally known as "New Spring Gardens," the site is believed to have opened before the Restoration of 1660, with the 1st known mention being made by Samuel Pepys in 1662. The then name distinguished the gardens from the Old Spring Gardens at Charing Cross; however Pepys implies that there were both Old & New Spring Gardens at Vauxhall. Spring Gardens appears to have been a longstanding appellation for a variety of entertainment enterprises. The Gardens consisted of several acres of trees & shrubs with attractive walks. Initially entrance was free, with food & drink being sold to support the venture. The Gardens drew all manner of people & supported enormous crowds, with its sheltered paths being noted for romantic assignations. 

Thursday, September 19, 2019

1665 Early London Gardens & Spas, Wells, & Baths for Health - including Spring Gardens - Vauxhall

Warwick Wroth. London Pleasure Gardens. New York: The MacMillan Co., 1896.

"An entry in the diary of Samuel Pepys records how on the 7th of June, 1665, "the hottest day that ever I felt in my life," he took water to the Spring Garden at Fox-hall and there stayed, pleasantly walking, and spending but sixpence, till nine at night. The garden that he visited was that which formed the nucleus of those Vauxhall Gardens which, seventy or eighty years later, became the most favoured summer resort of pleasure-seeking Londoners. Vauxhall with its great concourse of high and low, its elaborate concerts, its lamps and brightly painted supper-boxes, is far removed from the simple garden in which Mr. Pepys delighted to ramble, but not only Vauxhall, but several other pleasure gardens of the eighteenth century may be traced to comparatively humble beginnings in the period between the Restoration and the reign of Anne.

"Several London pleasure gardens were in existence before the Restoration, the Mulberry Garden on the site of Buckingham Palace and the Spring Gardens at Charing Cross...The musical entertainments that afterwards became a feature of the principal gardens were originally of little account. The Wells of Lambeth (1697) and Hampstead (1701) provided a concert of some pretensions, but Mr. Pepys at the Spring Garden was content with the harmony of a harp, a fiddle, and a Jew's trump...


"In...central London, (the garden visitor) would find himself in the open fields and in a region abounding in mineral springs. Islington Spa (1684-1840) and its opposite neighbour Sadler's Wells (from 1683) had chalybeate springs that claimed to rival the water ("so mightily cry'd up") of Tunbridge Wells in Kent, and if the water itself was unpalatable, the adjoining pleasure gardens and Long Rooms, with their gay company, tended to make the drinking of medicinal water both pleasant and seductive. At no great distance from Sadler's Wells were the Wells of Bagnigge (from 1759), the London Spa (from 1685), St. Chad's Well, and Pancras Wells (from circ. 1697); and a walk to Old Street would be rewarded by a plunge in the clear waters of the Peerless Pool, or by a basket of carp and tench caught in the fish pond close by."

Friday, September 13, 2019

1661 Vauxhall Chronology


Vauxhall Gardens was a public pleasure garden on the south bank of the River Thames accessed by boat from London until the erection of Vauxhall Bridge in the 1810s. It was one of the leading venues for public entertainment in London, from the mid-17C-mid-19C. Originally known as "New Spring Gardens," the site is believed to have opened before the Restoration of 1660, with the 1st known mention being made by Samuel Pepys in 1662. The then name distinguished the gardens from the Old Spring Gardens at Charing Cross; however Pepys implies that there were both Old & New Spring Gardens at Vauxhall. Spring Gardens appears to have been a longstanding appellation for a variety of entertainment enterprises. The Gardens consisted of several acres of trees & shrubs with attractive walks. Initially entrance was free, with food & drink being sold to support the venture. The new name Vauxhall Gardens, long in popular use, was made official in 1785, & admission was charged for its many attractions. The Gardens drew all manner of people & supported enormous crowds, with its sheltered paths being noted for romantic assignations. Tightrope walkers, hot-air balloon ascents, concerts, & fireworks provided entertainment. The rococo "Turkish tent" became one of the Gardens' structures, the interior of the Rotunda became one of Vauxhall's most viewed attractions, & the chinoiserie style was a feature of several buildings. It closed in 1840, after its owners suffered bankruptcy, but re-opened in 1841. It changed hands in 1842, & was permanently closed in 1859.
Vauxhall French print of the Water Cascade at Vauxhall Gardens, c 1750

Vauxhall Gardens in the 1600s


c.1615 Estate owned by John & Jane Vaux, vintners

1643/4 Civil War fortifications at Vauxhall

1661  2 July: John Evelyn's first visit to 'the New Spring Garden at Lambeth, a pretty contrived plantation.'

1662  29 May: First of many visits by Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys records 24 separate visits to the New Spring Gardens, Vaux-hall in his diary, the 1st on 29th May 1662.  Pepys details Vauxhall as little more than a country ale-house with a garden approached by boat across the river Thames. It had walks, flowerbeds & arbors. The refreshments were basic an & many visitors' supplied their own picnics.  Entertainment seemed to be provided by freelance performers or by the visitors themselves. It was a place where a citizen could take his wife & children to enjoy an evening out with food, drink, & informal entertainment in a large garden, an activity previously the privilege of royalty, courtiers, and aristocrats. However famliy friendly this early garden was, its main attraction seemed to be that it offered a setting where the sexes could meet freely, without many of the constraints that normally circumscribed the socialising between young men & young women in polite society.

1663 Balthazar Monconys visit

1688 Pontack's superior 'ordinary' or eating house opened, Christ Church Passage

1694 Pre 3 September: 'Great Spring Garden' put up for sale by Mrs. Elizabeth Plant

For much more, see Vauxhall Gardens, by David E. Coke, Alan Borg, published in 2011 by Yale University Press

Saturday, September 7, 2019

1661-1859 Vauxhall Bibliography

Dancing to the Orchestra at Vauxhall

Vauxhall Gardens did not close until July 1859, after almost 2 centuries as a hugely successful business. It underwent many changes in its architecture, its attractions, & its audience, during just 3 main periods of about 70 years each – the 1st ("New Spring Garden") from 1661-1728, the 2nd ("Tyers Years"), from 1729-1792 owned and managed by 2 generations of 1 family, and the 3rd from 1793-1859 ("Capitalistic Mass Entertainment"), when it was transformed from an elegant, fashionable rendezvous into a more populist commercial venue for balloon flights, fireworks, circus performers, musicians, & other spectacular entertainments.

Allen, Brian, 'Francis Hayman and the Supper-box Paintings for Vauxhall Gardens'. The Rococo in England: A Symposium, Ed. Charles Hind. London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1986, pp.113–133

Allen, Brian, Francis Hayman New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1987

de Bolla, Peter, The Education of the Eye Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2003. Chapter 2 - 'Vauxhall Gardens: The Visibility of Visuality'.

Caulfield, Penelope, J., Vauxhall Sex and Entertainment: London's Pioneering Urban Pleasure Garden London, History and Social Action Publications, 2012

Coke, David, and Borg, Alan, Vauxhall Gardens: a History, Yale University Press, 2011

Conan, Michael ed, Bourgeois and Aristocratic Cultural Encounters in Garden Art, 1550–1850 Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2002. essay by Gregory Nosan  'Pavilions, Power, and Patriotism: Garden Architecture at Vauxhall'.'

Conlin, Jonathan, 'Vauxhall Revisited: The Afterlife of a London Pleasure Garden, 1770–1859' in The Journal of British Studies, 45 October 2006, pp. 718–743

Downing, Sarah Jane, The English Pleasure Garden 1660-1860 Oxford and New York, Shire Publications, 2009

Edelstein T.J., ed., Vauxhall Gardens, Exhibition Catalogue New Haven: Yale Center, 1983

Potter, Russell A., 'Icebergs at Vauxhall', Victorian Review, Vol. 36, No. 2. Fall, 2010 pp. 27-31

Scott, W.S., Green Retreats. The Story of Vauxhall Gardens 1661-1859 London: Odhams, 1955

Southworth, James Granville, Vauxhall Gardens: A Chapter in the Social History of England New York: Columbia University Press, 1941

Wroth, Warwick and Arthur Edgar, The London Pleasure Gardens of the Eighteenth Century London: Macmillan, 1896

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Sports & Games - 17C Local Families Ice Skating & Golfing on Ice

Aert van der Neer, 1604-1677 IJsvermaak buiten de stadswal (ca. 1655)

Although this is a 17C image, ice skating by young men is recorded in London in the 12C. The 1st English mention of ice skating is found in a biography of Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas à Beckett written by his former clerk William FitzStephen around 1180, in his "description of the most noble city of London." The account reads: "when the great fenne or moore (which watereth the walles of the citie on the North side) is frozen, many young men play upon the yce, some striding as wide as they may, doe slide swiftly...some tye bones to their feete, & under their heeles, & shoving themselves by a little picked staffe, doe slide as swiftly as birde flyeth in the aire, or an arrow out of a crossbow. Sometime two runne together with poles, & hitting one the other, eyther one or both doe fall, not without hurt; some break their armes, some their legs, but youth desirous of glorie, in this sort exerciseth it selfe against time of warre..."

Golf on snow or ice and classical golf (and perhaps hockey) may share a common ancestor in the Dutch game of "Kolf", played since the Middle Ages. During the Little Ice Age of the 16C and 17C, it was also played on frozen canals, rivers, and lakes. Evidence for Kolf as a popular winter pastime can be seen in numerous 17C paintings. There is also evidence that golf was practiced on snow and ice in Scotland. There was a very active trade between the Dutch and the ports on the east coast of Scotland from the 14C through 17C. Some scholars suggest that Dutch sailors brought the Dutch game to the east coast of Scotland. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

1780 Public Garden of the British Museum, Montague House

Paul Sandby (English map-maker turned landscape painter, 1731-1809) The Garden of the British Museum, Montague House c. 1780

Montagu House was the original British Museum housing the collection of Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753). Sloane had bequeathed his large collection of some 71,000 objects to the king, George II, to preserve it for the nation, a gift that was accepted in June 1753. An Act of Parliament set up the British Museum, which opened to the public on 15 January 1759. Trustees had purchased in Montagu House in 1755, which had been built for Ralph Montagu, who lived there with his family.  Behind the house was a large formal garden laid out in the French style with grass, gravel walks, fountain, & ornamental sculpture.

The gardens had become neglected by the time Montagu House was purchased for the museum; and the Trustees employed a gardener, Mr Bramley, for "Rolling, Mowing, Watering, Planting, Digging, Pruning the Trees." By the end of 1755, it was reported that "The whole garden has been mowed, weeded and cleared of the Anthills; the Gravel Walks and borders restored, the Slopes made less steep and together with the borders planted; the Kitchen Garden trenched; a Tool House built in it; and the Basin repaired."  Now restored, the gardens were opened to visitors on 11 March 1757, proving so popular; that the Trustees issued season tickets for admission to the restored garden, although, like the Museum, it was admission free.