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


Further reading and external links

London Pleasure Gardens in the 1800s on Wikipedia

Marylebone Gardens on Wikipedia

Sholto and Reuben Percy