Pleasure Gardens were the amusement parks of Georgian England, during the 18th
and 19th centuries, allowing visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city
life while offering them a variety of picturesque gardens, strolling paths, musical concerts, al fresco dining, waterfalls, fountain displays, dancing, masquerades, and
even firework shows.
There existed an attraction for almost everyone of every taste, not least important among them being the chance to see and be seen by member of London high society.
Vauxhall, open from 1661 to 1859, is considered the first and most popular of pleasure gardens because of the variety of entertainment it offered as well as the large crowd it always attracted. Vauxhall was also so infamous that it was commonly referenced in popular literature at the time, as the unlit "dark walks" were popular hideoouts for young lovers as well as pickpockets.
Vauxhall was only ever really rivaled by the more exclusive Ranelagh, which opened in 1746 and was particularly popular among the higher classes. Pleasure gardens became such a popular London attraction that they remained in fashion through the Victorian era and were recreated in other cities and even other countries.
The following is a list of some interesting websites and recent scholarship related to
18th century pleasure gardens.