Chelsea had besides Ranelagh one or two other places of popular resort-Don Saltero's and the Old Chelsea Bun House; and later came Cremorne, once famous for its fireworks, a popular entertainment there being a representation of the bombardment of Gibraltar, with a discharge of rockets on to the gardens from steamboats in the river.
Battersea, on the opposite shore, was still almost given up to market gardeners. The old church close to the water's edge had been rebuilt and a copper spire added.
The old house of Lord Bolingbroke close to the church towards the end of the eighteenth century was partly pulled down, and a curious horizontal windmill was erected on part of the grounds; it was a most curious object from the river. This and two other old windmills, and the famous Red House on the riverbank, were for a long time familiar landmarks.
The Red House, a place of entertainment, was celebrated for its pigeon matches, shooting galleries, and was much patronised by boating parties. It formed a very picturesque and pleasing object on the bank, and has been often painted and sketched by artists.
One more place of public entertainment has not yet been noticed, although prominent enough, as it was actually on the river itself and not on its banks; it was known by the name of "The Folly".
Outwardly it had the appearance of an immense houseboat and was built on a large barge, square-ended both at bow and stern, and had four square turrets, one at each angle and one in the centre of the flat roof, which formed a sort of promenade deck with wooden balustrades all round, the entrances being at the ends.
It was first named "The Royal Diversion," and was originally anchored in the river over against Whitehall, and the term "Royal" applied to it refers to a visit paid by Queen Mary II., wife of William of Orange, and her attendant ladies; but it was afterwards moored further down the river opposite Somerset House.
During the winter it was laid up by Cupid's or Cuper's Gardens. Whatever might have been the character of the original entertainment provided here when honoured by royalty, it very soon degenerated, and quite early in the reign of Anne it had become a den of debauchery, and was finally chopped up for firewood.Next page: Decline of the watermen