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


Further reading and external links

London Pleasure Gardens in the 1800s on Wikipedia

Marylebone Gardens on Wikipedia

Sholto and Reuben Percy