Pleasure Gardens

and Tea Rooms

These pleasure gardens attracted patrons of all socio-economic classes with their open-air atmosphere, novel amusements,  and affordable admission.

Eighteenth century England witnessed a period of unprecedented prosperity. This prosperity was primarily the result of a relatively stable democratic government and a flourishing international trade with a growing number of colonies supported by trusted financial institutions. As a result, many hard-working and successful merchants, traders, craftsmen and professionals (dubbed the new "middle class" ) found that they had the time and money to visit opera houses, music clubs, or in London, one of the pleasure gardens such as Vauxhall and Ranelagh. 1 These so-called "Pleasure Gardens" and the less elaborate tea rooms sprung up around London in the 18th century, attracting patrons of all socio-economic classes with their open-air atmosphere and cheap admission. 2 Here orchestras played, fountains splashed, ladies could walk unaccompanied, colored lights covered the walkways, and sometimes firework displays were held. The gardens provided a backdrop for listening to the latest concertos and songs from popular composers like Hayden, Handel and Hook. In addition, these locations provided a place for drinking tea and having pleasant conversation. Vauxhall Gardens, by the Thames at Vauxhall, was London's most fashionable pleasure garden. It was a popular nightspot that attracted all walks of life, from English royalty to a shop-boy and his sweetheart. Its winning prescription combined music, illuminated fountains, fireworks and light refreshments in an Eden-like atmosphere. 3 The successful formula of Vauxhall was copied by pleasure and tea gardens across England, Europe, and even the United States.  Tea gardens offered similar pleasures on a more modest scale. Tea could be taken in the tearoom or outdoors in the gardens. Trips to these suburban gardens were popular with the middle classes, especially on Sundays. 4

Click here to see pictures of the Gardens

Home Page | May-Day  | Popular Literature | Fairs, Festivals, and Freaks | Pleasure Gardens

and Tea Rooms | Bibliography | Credits

Social gathering at the Vauxhall Pleasure Garden.

Enjoying your visit?

Click the above button to read an authentic 18th century newspaper article about the Vauxhall Gardens.