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VAUXHALL AND RANELAGH.
ORIGINAL NAME OF VAUXHALL.-IN POSSESSION OF THE CROWN IN
CHARLES THE FIRST'S REIGN. -ITS FAR-FAMED GARDENS.—EVELYN'S VISIT TO THEM.—THE SPECTATOR'S” ACCOUNT OF THEM.-NIGHTINGALES AT VAUXHALL.—FIELDING AND GOLDSMITH'S DESCRIPTION OF THE GARDENS.-RANELAGH GARDENS.—WALPOLE'S LETTERS ON
THEIR OPENING. — DESCRIPTION OF THE PLACE. -ORIGINALLY FRE
QUENTED BY THE NOBILITY. -CAUSE OF ITS DOWNFALL.
VAUXHALL, or, as it was originally called, Fulke's Hall, is supposed to derive its name from Fulke or Faulk de Breauté, a distinguished Norman warrior in the reign of King John, who obtained the manor of Lambeth by right of his marriage with a wealthy heiress, Margaret de Ripariis, or Redvers. The name was subsequently corrupted into Fauxeshall, or Fox-Hall, and from thence into Vauxhall. It seems not improbable that the notorious Guy Faux was descended from the abovenamed marriage. There is no doubt that he was a resident in this parish, where, according to Pennant, “ he lived in a large mansion called Faux Hall," and it has even been supposed that he was lord of the manor. During the Protectorate, this mansion was the residence of the well-known mechanical genius, Sir Samuel Morland.
In the reign of Charles the First we find the manor of Vauxhall in the possession of the Crown. It was subsequently sold by the Parliament, and the proceeds were set apart for the payment of the seamen's wages. The ancient manor-house of Vaux Hall, stood on the banks of the Thames, and in the seventeenth century was known as Copt Hall. In the reign of James the First, it was in the possession of Sir Thomas Parry, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and here it was, under the custody of Sir Thomas, that the unfortunate Lady Arabella Stuart passed a dreary imprisonment of twelve months. It was also at Vauxhall that the once gay and gallant Duke of Monmouth, after his defeat at the battle of Sedgmoor, was met by a guard of soldiers, who conducted him to the Tower. At his lodgings near Vauxhall, the pastoral poet, Ambrose Philips, breathed his last on the 18th of June 1749.
But the most interesting memories associated with Vauxhall are derived from its far-famed gardens, which, for nearly a century and a half continued to be the resort of all who were conspicuous for wit, rank, gallantry, and fashion ;-witnessing, as they have done, successive revolutions in manners, habits, and costume ;-trod by successive generations of youth and beauty; and, moreover, rendered classic ground by the genius of Addison, Fielding, Goldsmith, Horace Walpole, and Madame D'Arblay. The glories of Vauxhall have scarcely yet entirely passed away; and long may it remain -with its sparkling fountains, its shady vistas lighted by a thousand variegated lamps, and its joyous sounds of music and song,—to delight the antiquary with its memories of the olden time, and the young and the gay with its sprightly amusements.
The earliest notice which we find of Vauxhall Gardens, as a place of public entertainment, is in July 1661, when Evelyn mentions his paying a visit to the “New Spring Garden at Lambeth,” which he describes as a “pretty contrived plantation.” It obtained the name of the “ New Spring Garden,” in contradistinction to the old Spring Garden, which was situated at the east end of St. James's Park. In Pepys' “ Diary” are some very interesting notices of Vauxhall, or, as it was then styled, Fox-hall.
“20 June, 1665. By water to Fox-hall, and there walked an hour alone, observing the several humours of the citizens that were this holyday pulling off cherries, and God knows what.”
“ 28 May, 1667. By water to Fox-hall, and there walked in Spring Garden. A great deal of company,
and the weather and garden pleasant, and it is very pleasant and cheap going thither, for a man may go to spend what he will or nothing, all as one. But to hear the nightingale and other birds, and here fiddles and there a harp, and here a Jew's trump, and here laughing, and there fine people walking, is mighty divertising."
“30 May, 1668. To Fox Hall, and there fell into the company of Harry Killigrew, a rogue newly come out of France, but still in disgrace at our
Court, and young Newport and others, as very rogues as any in the town, who were ready to take hold of every woman that came by them. And so to supper in an arbour: but Lord! their mad talk did make my heart ache.”
“1 June, 1668. Alone to Fox Hall, and walked and saw young Newport, and two more rogues of the town, seize on two ladies, who walked with them an hour with their masks on (perhaps civil ladies); and there I left them.”
“ 27 July, 1668. Over the water, with my wife and Deb and Mercer, to Spring Garden, and there eat and walked; and observe how rude some of the young gallants of the town are become, to go into people's arbours where there are not men, and almost force the women; which troubled me, to see the confidence of the vice of the age; and so we away by water with much pleasure home.”
Every one remembers the charming paper in the “Spectator,” dated the 20th of May 1712, (No. 383), in which Addison describes his visit to the Spring Garden, as Vauxhall Gardens were still called, in company with Sir Roger de Coverley. They took boat at the Temple Stairs; the kind-hearted old Knight selecting, from the swarm of watermen who offered their services, a man with a wooden-leg, observing : “ I never make use of anybody to row me that has not lost either a leg or an arm.
I would rather bate him a few strokes of his oar than not employ an honest man that has been wounded in the Queen's service. If I was a lord or a bishop, and
kept a barge, I would not put a fellow in my livery that had not a wooden leg.” They then embarked; Sir Roger trimming the boat with his coachman, who, being a sober man, was always used as ballast on such occasions. After describing their progress up the river, Addison proceeds :-“We were now arrived at Spring-garden, which is excellently pleasant at this time of the year. When I considered the fragrancy of the walks and bowers, with the choirs of birds that sung upon the trees, and the loose tribe of people that walked under their shades, I could not but look upon the place as a kind of Mahometan paradise. Sir Roger told me it put him in mind of a little coppice by his house in the country, which his chaplain used to call an aviary of nightingales. • You must understand,' says the Knight, “there is nothing in the world that pleases a man in love so much as your nightingale. Ah! Mr. Spectator, the many moonlight nights that I have walked by myself, and thought on the widow by the music of the nightingale !' He here fetched a deep sigb, and was falling into a fit of musing, when a mask, who came behind him, gave him a gentle tap upon the shoulder, and asked him if he would drink a bottle of mead with her? But the Knight, being startled at so unexpected a familiarity, and displeased to be interrupted in his thoughts of the widow, told her she was a wanton baggage; and bid her go about her business. We concluded our walk with a glass of Burton ale, and a slice of
When we had done eating ourselves,