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VAUXHALL GARDENS ARCHIVE, c1660-1859 from Lambeth Archives, London

  • This collection provides a detailed picture of the management and programme of events at one of the world’s most famous ‘pleasure gardens’, c1660-1859.
  • There is a wealth of information on many different entertainments, from musical performances, dances, theatre, circus acts and ballooning to fireworks and spectacular re-enactments.
  • Evidence on the social behaviour of all classes is also here in rich abundance, from celebrities and courtesans to the crowds of onlookers and general public, including lavish displays of beauty and elegance and less decorous aspects such as drunkenness and prostitution.
  • The material includes weekly newsletters, pamphlets, press cuttings and play bills. There are important illustrations of the gardens including plans, sketches and images of a range of entertainments. Song books and music sheets for performances are provided for the period c1773-1859.   
  • The manuscript journal of George Stevens, lessee and director, lists officials, performers, receipts and expenditure between 1822 and 1859.
  • For those interested in Black History there is ‘Sharpe’s Comic Songbook’ with songs performed by black entertainers and its comments on London’s growing ethnic population.

Above all this an excellent archive for the study of entertainment and social life spanning a 200 year period taking in key developments in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


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