Cremorne Gardens

Venue Type & Location

Pleasure Gardens

Site Name: Cremorne Gardens
Location: London
County: London (city-county)
Location Type: Town - in town at determined location

Overview

  • Address: Chelsea. More specifically, Diana Howard suggests that the Gardens occupied “12 acres west of Battersea Bridge between King’s Road and the river” (57). For a current map,
    Click Here. For an historical map showing the venue (in addition to the one excerpted at right), Click Here.



  • Audience Composition: A great deal has been written about the frequenters of Cremorne, much of it somewhat contradictory. In 1879, Charles Dickens described Cremorne as “a sort of vulgar Vauxhall”, and claimed that the “patronage of royalty was never extended to it. […] [T]he gardens had to depend solely upon the support of ordinary people” (467). Edmund Yates, on the other hand, suggested that visitors to the Gardens were “of all classes, ranging from old women and children who come for an early tea and a stroll in the grounds […] down to gentlemanly gentlemen who eat suppers and are far too grand to express their desire to see anything at all” (Business of Pleasure 14). Warwick Wroth provided still another view in 1907, suggesting that Cremorne “was not, for one thing, a place that ladies (in the strict sense of the word) were in the habit of visiting, unless, perhaps (as Mr. Sala puts it) 'in disguise and on the sly', or, at any rate, under the safe conduct of a husband or brother. Ladies of some sort were, no doubt, considerably in evidence there, though we are not to think of Cremorne as so entirely given over to 'drink, dancing and devilry' as its sterner critics declared. If it was a place for the man about town, it also attracted a number of worthy citizens who went there for an evening's pleasure with their wives and daughters and were 'not particular'” (reproduced in The Victorian Dictionary Online). Given all of these descriptions, it seems safe to say that the Gardens’ patrons constituted, as Edward Walford put it, “a motley crowd of pleasureseekers” (reproduced at British History Online).


  • Performance Space Description: Images and descriptions of Cremorne suggest that it was a large outdoor expanse wherein lit, tree-lined paths encircled a number of entertainment complexes (such as a Marionette Theatre, a dancing platform, and a fireworks ‘temple’.) Wroth, for instance, writes that “the grounds were well lit, but on entering there was not that sudden blaze of light that was the visitors great sensation when he came through the dark pay-entrance into the garden of Vauxhall. The most conspicuous feature was the orchestra to the south-west of the gardens - a 'monster pagoda', brilliantly lighted with hundreds of coloured lamps, and surrounded by a circular platform, prepared, it is said, to accommodate 4,000 dancers.” (reproduced in the Victorian Dictionary Online.) Descriptions of the Gardens are generally complimentary, and in The Business of Pleasure, Yates in fact dubs Cremorne “the prettiest and best-managed public night-garden in Europe” (17).



  • Typical Fare: By and large, entertainments at Cremorne seem to have been patterned after the variety bills previously established at Vauxhall. On any given evening, spectators might partake of a number of attractions, such as balloon ascents, fireworks displays, tightrope walkers, instrumental concerts, comic singers, farces, burlettas, or ballets. According to Dickens, “[t]he Thames, too, was pressed into the service of the gardens, and naval fetes, in which the river steamboats took part, were occasionally given (468). Open-air dancing was also a popular feature of the entertainments at Cremorne.



  • Performance History

  • In the early 19th Century, the site which would become Cremorne Gardens was occupied by the surburban residence of Thomas Dawson, Lord Cremorne.



  • Following Dawson’s death, the property changed hands a few times, before being opened to the public as a stadium by the Baron de Beaufair (also called the Baron de Beringer in some sources) in the 1830s.



  • Dickens notes that in the years shortly after its opening as a stadium, the property “gradually acquired more and more the character of a pleasure-garden” (467). In 1845, he says, Cremorne first offered “a regular season of Vauxhall entertainments” (467-8). It remained a relatively popular pleasure garden until 1877.



  • Cremorne’s demise has often been attributed to the development of the neighbourhood surrounding it. Following the 1877 season, the Gardens’ were largely built over. The Lot’s Road power station now occupies much of the site, though a small picnic area remains. The Chelsea Council also restored one of the original, wrought iron entry gates in 1981 (see photo above).




    Please see the 'Bibliographic Sources' link at right for a complete listing of materials (both primary and secondary) from which the above information was compiled.



    The Howard and Senelick et al texts (cited at right) also contain listings of relevant contemporary and historical sources pertaining to this venue.



    Beth Marquis

  • Events at Cremorne Gardens

    Event Date Venue Location Troupe
    Variety 29 June 1846 - 29 June 1846 London, London (city-county) Cowell, Sam
    Variety 5 April 1847 - 5 April 1847 London, London (city-county) Barlow, W.R.
    Variety 21 June 1847 - 26 June 1847 London, London (city-county) Barlow, W.R.
    Concert 28 June 1847 - 2 July 1847 London, London (city-county) Barlow, W.R.
    Variety 5 July 1847 - 9 July 1847 London, London (city-county) Barlow, W.R.
    Variety 19 July 1847 - 24 July 1847 London, London (city-county) Barlow, W.R.
    Variety 26 July 1847 - 30 July 1847 London, London (city-county) Barlow, W.R.
    Variety 9 August 1847 - 13 August 1847 London, London (city-county) Barlow, W.R.
    Variety 16 August 1847 - 20 August 1847 London, London (city-county) Barlow, W.R.
    Variety 23 August 1847 - 27 August 1847 London, London (city-county) Barlow, W.R.
    Variety 6 September 1847 - 6 September 1847 London, London (city-county) Bosjesmans
    Variety 20 September 1847 - 25 September 1847 London, London (city-county) Bosjesmans
    Variety 27 September 1847 - 2 October 1847 London, London (city-county) Bosjesmans
    Variety 26 April 1848 - 26 April 1848 London, London (city-county) Female American Serenaders
    Variety 20 June 1848 - 20 June 1848 London, London (city-county) Virginian Harmonists (1848)
    Variety 25 July 1848 - 25 July 1848 London, London (city-county) Ceda (1848), Virginian Harmonists (1848)
    Variety 14 August 1848 - 19 August 1848 London, London (city-county) Ceda (1848), Virginian Harmonists (1848)
    Variety 2 October 1848 - 2 October 1848 London, London (city-county) Risley, J.T.
    Variety 16 July 1849 - 21 July 1849 London, London (city-county) Bateman, W.
    Variety 23 July 1849 - 24 July 1849 London, London (city-county) Bateman, W.
    Variety 30 July 1849 - 30 July 1849 London, London (city-county) Bateman, W.
    Variety 6 August 1849 - 8 August 1849 London, London (city-county) Bateman, W.
    Variety 11 September 1849 - 11 September 1849 London, London (city-county) Bateman, W.
    Variety 5 May 1851 - 10 May 1851 London, London (city-county) Bosjesmans
    Variety 19 May 1851 - 19 May 1851 London, London (city-county) Bosjesmans, Ethiopian Serenaders (1851)
    Variety 29 May 1851 - 29 May 1851 London, London (city-county) Bosjesmans, Ethiopian Serenaders (1851)
    Variety 2 June 1851 - 7 June 1851 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1851), Bosjesmans
    Variety 9 June 1851 - 14 June 1851 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1851), Bosjesmans
    Variety 16 June 1851 - 21 June 1851 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1851)
    Variety 16 June 1851 - 21 June 1851 London, London (city-county) Bosjesmans
    Variety 23 June 1851 - 28 June 1851 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1851)
    Variety 23 June 1851 - 28 June 1851 London, London (city-county) Bosjesmans
    Variety 30 June 1851 - 5 July 1851 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1851)
    Variety 7 July 1851 - 12 July 1851 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1851), Bosjesmans
    Variety 14 July 1851 - 19 July 1851 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1851)
    Variety 21 July 1851 - 26 July 1851 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1851), Bosjesmans
    Variety 28 July 1851 - 2 August 1851 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1851)
    Exhibition 28 July 1851 - 2 August 1851 London, London (city-county) Allen, S (Bosjesmen Lecturer), Bosjesmans
    Variety 4 August 1851 - 9 August 1851 London, London (city-county) Bosjesmans, Ethiopian Serenaders (1851)
    Variety 11 August 1851 - 16 August 1851 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1851), Bosjesmans
    Variety 18 August 1851 - 23 August 1851 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1851)
    Variety 25 August 1851 - 30 August 1851 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1851)
    Variety 2 September 1851 - 2 September 1851 London, London (city-county) Ethiopian Serenaders (1851), Redmond, Juba Dancer
    Variety 8 September 1851 - 13 September 1851 London, London (city-county) Bosjesmans, Ethiopian Serenaders (1851)
    Variety 15 September 1851 - 20 September 1851 London, London (city-county) Bosjesmans, Ethiopian Serenaders (1851)
    Variety 15 September 1851 - 20 September 1851 London, London (city-county) Bosjesmans
    Variety 24 May 1852 - 28 May 1852 London, London (city-county) Kaffir Chiefs
    Variety 5 July 1852 - 9 July 1852 London, London (city-county) Kaffir Chiefs
    Variety 12 July 1852 - 16 July 1852 London, London (city-county) Kaffir Chiefs

    Bibliographic Sources

    • Bell’s Life in London June 27, 1847: 2:1.
    • Black’s New Guide to London and its Environs. London: Adam and Charles Black, 1863.
    • Clarke, Henry Green. London in All Its Glory. London: H.G. Clarke & Co., 1851.

      p66.

    • Dickens, Charles. . All the Year Round. A Weekly Journal. London: Messrs. Chapman & Hall, 1879.
    • Dictionary of Victorian London Online. 07/27/2008 (http://www.victorianlondon.org/)

      (Under Entertainment - Gardens & Spas - Cremorne Gardens)

    • Era (London) June 15, 1851: 11:2.
    • Evanion Collection, British Library Evan.504
    • Fountain, Nigel. Lost Empires: The Phenomenon of Theatres Past, Present and Future. London: Cassell Illustrated, 2005.
    • Howard, Diana. London Theatres and Music Halls 1850-1950. London: The Library Association, 1970.
    • London as it is To-day. London: H.G. Clarke & Co., 1851.

      pp258-259.

    • Puppet Show no. 54; March 17, 1849: box titled "Close of the Public Gardens".
      A general piece pertaining to entertainments at “The Pleasure Gardens”:
        Performance Type Indicated:
        • Variety, though article doesn’t pertain specifically to a given event
        Troupe Name as Given:
        • not listed
        Troupe Size Given:
        • not listed
        Performers Listed:
        • none
        Days & Times Given:
        • none – doesn’t pertain to a specific event
        Other Acts on Bill Listed:
        • "Laurent"
        Other Info in Record:
        • other (venue season)
    • Senelick, Laurence et al. British Music-Hall 1840-1923. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1981.
    • Theatrical Journal (London) June 2, 1852: 171:1-172:1.
    • Theatrical Journal (London) April 10, 1847: 115:1-2.
    • Theatrical Journal (London) April 10, 1847: 115:1-2.
    • Theatrical Journal (London) May 8, 1851: 149:2.
    • Walford, Edward. Old and New London Vol. 5 (1878). Reproduced at British History Online. 05/20/2008 (http://www.british-history.ac.uk/source.aspx?pubid=343)

      Chapter 8

    • Yates, Edmund Hodgson. The Business of Pleasure. London: G. Routledge, 1879.