Description

Ranelagh first opened its gates to the general public in April 1742 on the site of a Thames-side mansion. Unlike other London pleasure gardens it attracted a mainly (but not exclusively) rich and fashionable patronage owing to the relatively high entry price of two shillings and six pence. In addition to the elegant paths, ornamental gardens and walkways, a central attraction at Ranelagh was the famous rotunda (shown in this image shortly after the official opening) which was built to house entertainments and dining on a grand scale during inclement weather. At 150 feet wide the rotunda contained over 50 private dining compartments, a huge central fireplace and public galleries erected for audiences to observe concerts performed on the central stage with its grand organ. The most famous musicians of the day always entertained the crowds at Ranelagh, among them a young Mozart who performed at Ranelagh in 1764.

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