'A mine of information on not only how Londoners of all classes spent their leisure hours at these establishments, but also what they and the literati of the day thought of them. For here was contained, for more than a century, the recreational life of an entire people - from the fashionable, if somewhat dull, assemblies in Ranelagh's great rotunda, to the more democratic nightly festivities amid the decorated supper boxes and leafy avenues of Vauxhall Gardens, to the free and easy atmosphere of such middle- and working-class pleasure haunts as Bagnigge Wells, Dobney's Bowling Green, and the ill-famed Dog and Duck in St. George's Fields. Besides the amusements peculiar to the gardens themselves, there were the embryonic stirrings of a number of other entertainments that were destined to flourish in the second half of the eighteenth and the coming century.
Thus, in addition to the music, dancing, bowling, occasional gambling, and consumption of tea, wine, cakes, and other comestibles for which the gardens were justly celebrated, and more ambitious ventures such as fireworks and illuminations, transparencies, masquerades, and balloon ascensions, there were often spirited exhibitions of trick horsemanship, juggling, and ropedancing (eventually a speciality of Sadler's Wells), together with more obvioulsy dramatic fare such as puppets and burlettas. As the population of greater London continued to increase and the outlying regions in which many of the gardens lay were gradually built over, several of these last were incorporated into newly established circuses, summer theatres, and music halls, where the business of eating and drinking was also continued. For anyone studying the origins of these later entertainments, therefore, the history of the eighteenth-century pleasure gardens forms essential reading.' - from the foreward by A.H. Saxon
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Number of pages: 375
Weight: 651 g
Dimensions: 216 x 140 x 37 mm