Category Archives: 18th Century

London – Public Gardens – Vauxhall Gardens

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London’s public gardens, also known as tea-gardens, in the 18th Century.

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London – Public Gardens – Vauxhall Gardens

For upwards of a century and a half, Vauxhall Gardens, which are situated on the banks of the Thames near Kennington, have, though with various degrees of popularity, continued to be a favourite place of public amusement. It is said the gardens were planted in the reign of Charles I., nor is it improbable, since, according to Aubrey, they were well known in [1667], when Sir Samuel Morel and, the proprietor, added a public room to them, “the inside of which,” he says, “is all looking-glass, and fountains very pleasant to behold, and which is much visited by strangers.”

Addison and the other Essayists of that period all notice Vauxhall as a place of fashionable resort. The entertainments at that time seem to have been entirely of a musical description, nor were they extended to any thing else until the eccentric Jonathan Tyers took the premises; he altered the house considerably, planted several trees, formed shady walks, and opened the gardens with a ridotto al fresco. The success he met with for some seasons, induced and enabled him to make many embellishments in the gardens, and to employ the talents of Hogarth and Hayman in some excellent paintings; and a fine statue of Handel was executed for the gardens by Roubiliac.

The amusements at Vauxhall have been frequently varied, but generally consist of vocal and instrumental music, performed in a large orchestra erected in the gardens. There are also fire-works on a very extensive scale, rope dancing, ballets, ombres Chimris, hydraulics, cosmoramas, etc. Of late years some new buildings have been erected, capable of accommodating several thousands of persons, and entertaining them with various amusements in case of rain; the walks are illuminated with numerous variegated lamps, which are arranged with great taste. The company, which unites the extremes of society, has been known to amount to fifteen thousand persons, most of whom, independent of the price of admission, take refreshments in the gardens.

In [1812], the magistrates of Surrey refused to license the gardens on account of the proprietors having permitted masquerades, but after an explanation the license was renewed. In July [1813], these gardens were the scene of one of the most splendid fetes ever given in this country, in honour of the victory of Vittoria, which was attended by the royal family, and nearly the whole of the fashionable world then in town.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

London Pleasure Gardens in the 1800s on Wikipedia

Marylebone Gardens on Wikipedia

Sholto and Reuben Percy

London – Public Gardens – 1770 – Bermondsey Spa

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of Londons public gardens, also known as tea-gardens, in the 18th Century.

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London – Public Gardens – 1770 – Bermondsey Spa

On the Surrey side of the Thames there were formerly several public gardens. The most respectable was the Bermondsey Spa, in Grange Road, Bermondsey. The spring, which was chalybeate, was discovered in [1770]; but some years previous to this time, Mr. Thomas Keyse, the proprietor of the gardens, a self-taught artist, rendered them attractive by exhibiting a collection of his own paintings, principally subjects of still life, which possessed considerable merit. Keyse afterwards obtained a license for opening his gardens with musical entertainments during the summer season. Burlettas were also sometimes performed on small temporary stages, erected in the garden. Fireworks were occasionally introduced; and one season Mr. Keyse constructed an immense model, which covered four acres of ground, of Gibraltar, in order to represent the memorable siege of that place in [1782]. The height of the rock was upwards of fifty feet, and the exhibition was as popular as it was creditable to the mechanical ingenuity of Mr. Keyse, but his talents were almost thrown away from the unfavourable situation in which they were exerted.

Cupers Gardens, near the New Cut, Lambeth, were once celebrated for their fire-works, and were occasionally visited by Frederick Prince of Wales, the grandfather of his present Majesty, and his Consort. The company was entertained with the usual amusements at such places; but the gardens soon became a scene of low dissipation, and they were suppressed in [1753]. The Dog and Duck, and the Apollo Gardens, were of a similar character.

Independent of the public gardens in the immediate environs of the metropolis, attempts have been made to introduce them at some distance from town; and in the year 1742, Ruckholt House, Leyton, Essex, which is said to have been once the mansion of Queen Elizabeth, was opened by Mr. Barton, the proprietor, with public breakfasts, weekly concerts, and occasional orations, but the distance from town was unfavourable, and the entertainments were not continued more than four years. Several of the taverns near London have large gardens, which are much frequented in the summer season, although they possess no attractions beyond the sale of refreshments.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

London Pleasure Gardens in the 1800s on Wikipedia

Marylebone Gardens on Wikipedia

Sholto and Reuben Percy

London – Public Gardens – 1700s – White Conduit House

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of Londons public gardens, also known as tea-gardens, in the 18th Century.

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London – Public Gardens – 1700s – White Conduit House

White Conduit House, where the humbler class of the inhabitants hie, merry-hearted, on a Sunday, is one of the most celebrated of all the tea-gardens in the neighbourhood of London, numerous as they are. The house takes its name from an old stone conduit, erected in the year [1641], which supplied the charter-house with water through a leaden pipe. The garden of White Conduit House is very spacious, and a neighbouring field was formerly attached to it as a cricket-ground, where a club of noblemen and gentlemen assembled to practise that game. This house was some years ago occupied by a Mr.  Christopher Bartholomew, a gentleman whose unconquerable passion for gaming in the lottery reduced him to beggary, notwithstanding he was at one time worth £50,000, and had several lucky hits, one of which he celebrated by fete champeire in these gardens, “to commemorate the smiles of fortune,” as the tickets of admission expressed it; it was, however, no wonder that he was ruined, as he sometimes spent two thousand guineas a day in insurance in the lottery, selling his stacks of hay or any thing to raise the money. The last thirteen years of his life were passed in great poverty, yet still his passion never forsook him; and when towards the close of his life he got about £600 by a new adventure in the lottery, and had purchased an annuity with the money, he sold it again to indulge in his fatal propensity.

Near White Conduit House was formerly another tea-garden, called d’Aubigny’s, which is memorable from the circumstance of its being the first place where equestrian exercises were exhibited in London, and that with so much ability, that if the accounts of contemporaries are to be relied on, we suspect that Price and Sampson, the equestrians of the middle of last century, exhibited as extraordinary feats of horsemanship as are to be seen at the Royal Amphitheatre at the present day.

There are several other tea-gardens much frequented on Sundays, but they appear rapidly declining in popularity; and Bagnigge Wells, once the residence of the celebrated favourite of Charles II., Nell Gwynne, is by no means respectably attended.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

London Pleasure Gardens in the 1800s on Wikipedia

Marylebone Gardens on Wikipedia

Sholto and Reuben Percy

London – Public Gardens – 1733 – Islington Spa

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London’s public gardens, also known as tea-gardens, in the 18th Century.

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London – Public Gardens – 1733 – Islington Spa

Islington was long celebrated for its public gardens; for, in addition to White Conduit House, and Bagnigge Wells, now mere tea-gardens, there were the New Tunbridge Wells, or Islington Spa, and Sadler’s Wells, which have been erroneously confounded as the same by most of the London local historians. The Islington Spa, a spring of chalybeate water, now in a small garden in Lloyd’s Row, near the New River Head, was discovered about the year [1690], and was opened to the poor gratis, provided they did not go out of mere curiosity, but with a certificate from a surgeon or an apothecary. A few years afterwards, as we learn by an advertisement of the year [1700], there was “music for dancing all day long every Monday and Thursday during the summer season,” but, with a due regard to public morals, no masks were admitted.

In 1733, the Islington Spa rose to the very height of popularity, in receiving the patronage of royalty. Their royal highnesses the Princesses Amelia and Caroline having been recommended the use of chalybeate waters, repaired to Islington Spa daily during the season of that year. Their example was soon followed by the nobility and gentry to such an extent, that the proprietor frequently took £30. in a single morning. The birthdays of the princesses were always celebrated at the Islington Spa, with discharges of artillery, bonfires, and other testimonials of joy. The breakfast-room, which was forty feet long, contained an orchestra at one end, and the testimonials of the virtues of the mineral waters, written by persons who had experienced its beneficial effects, more numerous (and certainly more authentic) than any dealer in a patent medicine could produce. Even the trees in the walks were converted into an album for the purpose, and the bark of one of them bore the following inscription, curiously cut in the bark:-

“Obstructum reserat; durum terit; humidum siccat; Debile, fortificat, -si tamen art bibas.”

The gardens were for some time opened with music and fire-works and other amusements, to which the more rational entertainment of an orrery and evening lectures was added in Lent.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

London Pleasure Gardens in the 1800s on Wikipedia

Marylebone Gardens on Wikipedia

Sholto and Reuben Percy

London – Public Gardens – 1700s – Ranelagh

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London’s public gardens, also known as tea-gardens, in the 18th Century.

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London – Public Gardens – 1700s – Ranelagh

The ancient sports and pastimes of the citizens of London have already been noticed. When the more chivalrous, but less refined, of these amusements had passed away, and a love of music and the drama had succeeded, a new species of entertainment sprung up, which, to these attractions, united those of sociability and an indulgence in the pleasures of the table. These were obtained at the public gardens, which, in the early part of the last century, were so numerous in the metropolis. The entertainments usually consisted of music, vocal and instrumental; fire-works and transparencies were displayed, and sometimes burlettas, or other dramatic pieces performed. Of these once popular places of amusement, Vauxhall is the only one that retains its original character, the others having either entirely disappeared, and their sites been occupied with buildings, or they have sunk into common tea-gardens, where the humbler classes of society relax on a Sunday evening in summer, and indulge themselves with a glass of “home-brewed ale,” or their wives and families with a cup of tea.

The most celebrated, and one of the most recent of these gardens was Ranelagh, near Chelsea, once the seat of a nobleman of that name. On his death, in 1733, the estate was sold, and fell into the hands of some speculative gentlemen, who determined on forming it into a place of public amusement, similar to Vauxhall, which had just risen into popularity. In the fitting up the gardens, a magnificent rotunda was erected, a hundred and fifty feet in diameter, in which was an orchestra, with numerous boxes and seats for the audience. The entertainments principally consisted of vocal and instrumental music. The rotunda was opened with a public breakfast, in April 1742, which was followed by a concert. The inhabitants of London are, however, too much occupied to assemble in sufficient numbers for entertainments in the day; and the morning concerts at Ranelagh were soon relinquished for evening amusements. For some years the tide of fashion set strong in favour of Ranelagh, which was one of the most attractive resorts of the gay world; but afterwards ceasing to be popular, the proprietors, in [1803], raised the building to the ground, and sold the materials. The price of admission was half-a-crown.

Mary-la-Bonne Gardens occupied the site of Manchester-square; they were not formed into a place of regular amusement until the year [1737], when Mr. Gough, the proprietor, who had before kept them gratuitously open, charged a shilling to each person, who in return received a ticket, which enabled him to have victuals or liquor to the full amount of the money paid on entering the gardens. Charles Dibdin and Charles Bannister made their debut, when youths, in Mary-la-Bonne Gardens, where very splendid fetes were frequently given, particularly on the birth-day of his late majesty. Fire-works, and a representation of Mount Etna, were among the amusements. A sort of fair was once held in the gardens, which were on that occasion fitted up with numerous shops and booths.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

London Pleasure Gardens in the 1800s on Wikipedia

Marylebone Gardens on Wikipedia

Sholto and Reuben Percy

London – Fairs – 1731

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London Fairs in the 18th Century particularly the Bartholomew Fair one of the greatest London Fairs of the time.

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London – Fairs – 1731

Bartholomew FairIn another bill, of a later period (1731) a piece was performed, entitled, “The Emperor of China,” written by the author of the “Generous Freemason”. Who this author is, is not stated, but we find the latter piece to have been written by William Rufus Chetwood, who was the tutor of the celebrated Barry, and for twenty years prompter at Drury-lane theatre.

Bartholomew Fair theatricals do not appear to have been thought so contemptible formerly as at present, for both Shuter and Yates had booths there in [1761], when the prices of admission were half-a-crown for the boxes, 1s. 6d. the pit, and a shilling to the gallery.

Dramatic representations, or rather misrepresentations, still prevail at the fair, but they are of the most wretched description. Formerly the lord mayor used to proceed in great state to Smithfield, and after proclaiming the fair, wait to see a wrestling match. The proclamation of the fair by his lordship is still continued, but with much less pageantry than formerly.

Two other fairs were held in London, in Tothillfields, and at Stepney; but these have been suppressed, as have those of Bow, Edmonton, Brook Green, and West End, all in the immediate neighbourhood of London. There is another fair, which, though at some distance from town, claims a notice on account of its popularity with almost all ranks in the metropolis. This is Fairlop Fair, which is held on the first Friday of July, in Hainault forest. This fair was founded by Daniel Day, an eminent block maker in Wapping, who, having an estate in Essex, used to assemble a few friends around him on the 1st of July, under a huge oak in the forest, to dine on beans and bacon. Public curiosity was at length attracted to the spot from this circumstance, and a fair established, which, in fine weather, is frequented by thousands from the metropolis, the block-makers proceeding in a huge boat, rigged like a ship, which is mounted on a carriage and drawn by six horses.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

Bartholomew Fair on Wikipedia

Bartholomew Fair on Inside London

Sholto and Reuben Percy

 

London – Fairs – Elkanah Settle

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London Fairs in the 18th Century particularly the Bartholomew Fair one of the greatest London Fairs of the time.

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London – Fairs – Elkanah Settle

Poor Elkanah Settle, who was the city Laureate, and had what Ben Jonson called the chandlery-shop pension, was, in his old age, reduced to the wretched shifts of writing drolls for Bartholomew Fair, and even to appear in a green leather case as a hissing serpent, vomiting fire, a circumstance alluded to with somewhat unfeeling severity, by  Dr. Young. Bartholomew Fair drolls were succeeded by a nearer approach to the regular drama, as the actors were men and not puppets. The pieces performed by the animated machines were of a less serious cast than those enacted by the puppets; and, in the British metropolis, we are not surprised to find that Whittingtons history should be one of the earliest and most popular of these dramas. The following Bartholomew Fair play-bill is of the reign of Queen Anne, and is copied from the Harleian MS. already alluded to:

“At Ben Johnson’s Booth, (by Mrs. Trynn’s company of actors,) in the rounds in Smithfield, during the fair, will be presented an excellent entertainment, being the famous History of Whittington, Lord Mayor of London; wherein, besides the variety of songs and dances, will be shown an extraordinary view of several stately and surprising scenes; as a rowling sea, bearing a large ship under sayl, with Neptune, mermaids, dolphins, etc; also, a prospect of a Moorish country, so swarming with rats and mice, that they over-run the king and queen’s table at dinner; likewise, a large diverting scene of tapestry, filled with all living figures; and, lastly, concluding with a lord mayor’s triumph, in which are presented nine several pageants, being six elephants and castles, a magnificent temple, and two triumphal chariots, one drawn by two lyons, and the other by two dolphins; in all which are seated above twenty persons, in various dresses; with flags, scutcheons, streamers, etc. The preparation and decoration of which infinitely exceed, both in expense and grandeur, all that has ever been seen on a stage in the fair.

“The chief parts are performed by actors from both theatres. Vivat Regina.”

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

Bartholomew Fair on Wikipedia

Bartholomew Fair on Inside London

Sholto and Reuben Percy

 

London – Fairs – 1700s – Roasted Pigs

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London Fairs in the 18th Century particularly the Bartholomew Fair one of the greatest London Fairs of the time.

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London – Fairs – 1700s Roasted Pigs

Pye-corner was also celebrated for roasted pigs, a prominent attraction in the fair, which were sold piping-hot in booths and stalls, and ostentatiously displayed. Various allusions are made to the Bartholomew Fair pig in Ben Jonson’s comedy of Bartholomew Fair, whence we learn that these delicacies were not confined to one particular place in the fair. Littlewit, addressing the puritanical wife, Win-the fight, says,

“Win, long to eat of a pig, sweet Win, i’the fair; d’ye see, i’the heart of the fair, not at Pyecorner.”

Of their attractiveness we have evidence in the Festivous notes of Gayton, who says, “If Bartholomew Fair should last a whole year, nor pigs nor puppet-shows would ever be surfeited of.”

Although Charles II. only confirmed the original charter of Henry II. which limited the fair to three days, yet it appears to have extended to a fortnight’s duration, either in his reign, or soon after, as we find from Ned Ward, who describes “the quality of the fair strutting round their balconies in their tinsey robes and golden leather buskins, expressing such pride in their buffoonery stateliness, that I could but reasonably believe they were as much elevated with the thought of their fortnight’s pageantry, as ever Alexander was with the glories of a new conquest”

The drolls, or “motions,” as they are more generally called in the early accounts of the fair, were a sort of dramatic entertainment performed by puppets, and generally founded on some part of the scripture history. Ben Jonson, in his play, gives the names of several of these motions; and among the Harleian MSS. in the British Museum, there is a collection of advertisements, about the reign of Queen Anne, in which there are some curious bills of the performances in the fair. Two of these (printed in the Percy Anecdotes of Pastime) are of “Operas,” called the “Old Creation of the World newly Revived” and one of them gives the “addition of Noah’s flood; also several fountains playing water during the time of the play.” The other adds a portion of the history from the New Testament, including the birth of Christ, Herod’s cruelty, the Feast of Dives, his treatment of Lazarus, and concluding with “Rich Dives in hell, and Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom; seen in a most glorious object, all in machines, descending in a throne, guarded with multitudes of angels, with the breaking of the clouds, discovering the palace of the Sun, in double and treble prospects, to the admiration of all spectators.”

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

Bartholomew Fair on Wikipedia

Bartholomew Fair on Inside London

Sholto and Reuben Percy

 

London – Fairs – Bartholomew Fair

 

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This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London Fairs in the 18th Century particularly the Bartholomew Fair one of the greatest London Fairs of the time.

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Read other posts in the London series

 London – Fairs – Bartholomew Fair

Bartholomew Fair, that annual scene of disorder, is still continued, though reduced in duration from a fortnight, to which it had extended, to three days, the time originally fixed, and it is declining so rapidly, that in a few years it will probably be discontinued altogether without any positive suppression, as has been the case with the fairs in the environs of London, Indeed, some doubts are entertained of the legality of suppressing the fair, as it is held under a charter granted by Henry II. to the priory of Bartholomew, and confirmed by succeeding monarchs. This fair, Stowe says, was appointed to be kept yearly “at Bartholomew-tide, for three days; to wit, the eve, the day, and the next morrow.” It was no doubt originally intended chiefly as a fair of business, as the same historian says, the clothiers of England and drapers of London repaired to it,” and had their booths and standing within the church-yard of this priory closed in with walls and gates, locked every night, and watched for safety of men’s goods and wares.”

The fair soon appears to have been extended in its duration; for the same writer says, in his time three days were devoted to business, and the rest “to see drolls, farces, rope-dancing, feats of activity, wonderful and monstrous creatures, wild beasts made tame, giants, etc.” One of the many instances we find in London of a particular branch of trade clinging to the same place, is connected with this fair; for, leading into Smithfield, there is a narrow lane, principally occupied by clothiers, or woollen drapers, as they are now more generally called, and which retains the name of Cloth Fair.

It is probable, however, that although cloth was the staple, it was never intended to be the only article dealt in; and we find that at one time various parts of Smithfield were appropriated to the sale of particular articles. Near Smithfield Bars, there was a place where shoes were generally sold, and it was therefore called Shoemaker-row; bows and arrows were also sold here as we find from Tom d’Durfey, who, in his “Pills to purge melancholy,” describing the fair in 1655, says,

“At Pye-corner end, mark well, my good friend, Tis a very fine dirty place;

Where there’s more arrows and bows, the Lord above knows, Than was handled at Chevy Chase.”

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

Bartholomew Fair on Wikipedia

Bartholomew Fair on Inside London

Sholto and Reuben Percy


London – Fairs – 1700s – The Mint

This article is from the book London – Volume 3 published in 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery – it covers the history of London Fairs in the 18th Century particularly the Bartholomew Fair one of the greatest London Fairs of the time.

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London – Fairs – 1700s – The Mint

Plays were enacted as at Bartholomew Fair, and Rich is said to have met withBartholomew Fair Walker, the original Macheath, at this fair, playing in a booth: upon being struck with his talents, he engaged him for the Lincoln’s Inn Theatre. This fair used to continue for upwards of a week; but in September 1743 it was limited to three days, on which the proprietors of booths, who usually made a collection for the prisoners in the Marshal sea, declared they could no longer afford it. This so incensed the prisoners, that they pulled up the pavement, and threw stones over the wall on the bowling-green adjoining the prison, by which a child was killed and several persons wounded. The high constables and magistrates now determined on putting down the fair; but the proprietors of booths and stalls removed to the Mint, a place that had long claimed peculiar privileges on account of the palace which formerly stood there, built by Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk. Here the fair was held for some time, until, in the year [1763], it was entirely suppressed.

May Fair, which commenced on the first of May, and continued for sixteen days, was held near Piccadilly and Park Lane, on the site now occupied by May Fair Chapel and the adjacent mansions. The place was formerly called Brook fields. More important business appears to have been transacted at this fair than mere drolls, since, in an advertisement of the year [1700], it is stated, that the first three days of the fair were “for live cattle and leather;” but, from its being added, “with the same entertainments as at Bartholomew Fair,” it is probable that the pretended sale of leather was only to give a show of business in order to prevent its being suppressed.

Excerpt from London Volume 3 1824 by Sholto and Reuben Percy – Brothers of the Benedictine Monastery

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Further reading and external links

Bartholomew Fair on Wikipedia

Bartholomew Fair on Inside London

Sholto and Reuben Percy