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