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History in the remaking

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Vauxhall’s rise to become one of London’s most exciting districts is a real case of history repeating itself. From the mid 17th to mid 19th Centuries, Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens were one of London’s leading entertainment venues.

The most famous singers and musicians of the day. Tightrope walkers. Balloon ascents. Firework displays. Its programme of events made it a veritable playground for Londoners and thousands flocked to visit. A rehearsal of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks attracted an audience of 12,000 and in 1786, a fancy dress jubilee was host to some 61,000 enthusiastic partygoers.

The Garden’s main walkways were lit by hundreds of lamps, leading visitors through an array of ruins, arches and statues to music rooms, a Rococo ‘Turkish tent’, a Gothic orchestra pit and even a Chinese pavilion. However, the unlit winding ‘dark walks’ were equally popular with amorous couples seeking some time away from the prying eyes of the gathered masses.

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A thoroughly modern slice of Victorian history