Places of amusement along the Thames

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Frequent references have been made already to the various places of amusement on the banks of the river. It would be long and tedious to give a detailed history of each of these places but we can say a bit about them.

In these days of music-halls, with their short turns, music, and lights, and such brilliant illuminations at Earl's Court, the entertainment provided at these old pleasure places would be considered dull and dingy in the extreme.

Vauxhall and Ranelagh were looked upon as the very epitome of all that was brilliant; where bright eyes looked all the brighter for the illumination of the oil lamps, and rippling laughter made the formal groves and avenues re-echo with the sound of "revelry by night" and when music arose with its voluptuous swell, nothing seemed to their minds wanting to make the place Elysium.

Below Bridge, the Cherry Garden at Redriff was much in vogue, though it was frequented more by the sober citizens than the courtiers.

Above Bridge were the Bull and the Swan and Globe, of which mention has already been made, and Paris Garden, which became afterwards a theatre; the name long survived in Paris Garden Stairs.

Cuper's Garden was opposite Somerset House, and was once famous for its fireworks. It was named after Boyder Cuper, who had been gardener at Arundel House. Cuper's influence with Thomas Earl of Arundel had obtained from him a quantity of broken fragments of antique marbles, leftovers from the more perfect specimens had been selected which now form the famous collection at Oxford.

With these fragments he decorated his garden, which eventually gained rather a notorious reputation: but it was not finally suppressed until 1753.

Beaufoy's vinegar works afterwards occupied the site, before they were removed to Lambeth on the building of Waterloo Bridge, and the approach to it on the Surrey side now passes over this once favourite resort, which was more often than not called Cupid's Garden.

One wonders what happened to the marble fragments of Greek and Roman antiquities. Perhaps they are still buried on the site, or burnt to make lime, or were they there when Beaufoy built their works?

Next page: Vauxhall Gardens