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pleasure gardens

pleasure gardens for the public, with entertainments and light refreshments, began in the 17th cent., but their heyday was the Georgian period, with more leisure and surplus income. They aimed at enchantment and elegant relaxation—coloured lights in the trees, flowers and arbours, music, fountains and fireworks, breakfasts and supper parties, masquerades and dancing, flirtation, and, above all, the pleasure of seeing and being seen. In London, Vauxhall and Ranelagh were augmented by less ambitious gardens at Marylebone, Hampstead, Sadler's Wells, Islington, and elsewhere. Bath had its own Vauxhall in Bathwick meadows by 1742 and Bristol its Vauxhall gardens near the Hotwells. Celia Fiennes noted ‘a sort of spring garden’ at Newcastle upon Tyne in 1698 and a new Ranelagh garden opened there in 1760. They did much to improve public taste and discourage boorishness but fell victim, in the end, to changing demand: the ton found them increasingly vulgar, the hoi polloi too tame.

J. A. Cannon

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