Wednesday, March 29, 2017

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."