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Ranelagh pleasure gardens

1770

Pleasure gardens

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  • Intro

    Pleasure gardens were the great melting pots of eighteenth-century society. London pleasure gardens in particular were phenomenally successful. First opened in 1746, Ranelagh pleasure gardens in Chelsea boasted acres of formal gardens with long sweeping avenues, down which pedestrians strolled together on balmy summer evenings. Other visitors came to admire the Chinese Pavilion or watch the fountain of mirrors and attend musical concerts held in the great 200-foot wide Rotunda. Novelist Tobias Smollett described how the nightly illuminations and magic lanterns at Ranelagh ‘made me almost think I was in some enchanted castle or fairy palace’. Originally designed to appeal to wealthier tastes, pleasure gardens soon became the haunt of the rich and poor alike, where both aristocrats and tradesmen enjoyed the rural retreat side by side.

     

    Shelfmark: 37/840m.28

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