Wednesday 31 March 2010

Cremorne Gardens

Friday, April 9, 2010, 13:00 - 13:45
FREE but please book in advance: 020 7001 9844

I've been asked to speak on the subject of Cremorne Pleasure Gardens at the Museum of London next week - the background setting to my fourth book The Last Pleasure Garden (pub. 2006). Part of the revamped Victorian section of the museum (opening in May) will feature a recreation of a pleasure garden - hence the renewed interest.

    Pleasure gardens were - for the most part - built on the borders of London in the 17th/18th century (Marylebone and Islington were popular areas) to provide a range of outdoor amusements. The astonishingly long-lived Vauxhall Gardens (1661-1859) is the most famous - but it had a rival in Cremorne Gardens (1836-77) across the river in Chelsea.
     Cremorne had something of a split personality. By day, it was a respectable park / theme-park, with fun-fair shows and amusements (American-style bowling alleys, a maze, a fortune-telling 'hermit' ... I'll spare you the full list). By night, however, it was (so moralists claimed) a notorious den of vice. A typical Cremorne bill of fare can be seen on the right of this blog. If you would like to know more, then come to my talk, where we will discuss, in passing, the Beckwith Frogs; the Italian Salamander; De Groot, the Flying Man (& his terrible demise) and the unfortunate end of Cremorne itself.


  1. Sounds like a great talk! When you come on your American tour, come to Seattle! :) Good luck!

  2. Hope you get around to giving this and similar talks, in museums and towns outside of London?(Lorna Bell)

  3. Thanks Lorna. In short, I don't get out of London that much, as childcare is partly an issue. I'm always open to offers of paid speaking engagements; and it does depend a bit on the question of location/travel.

  4. Childcare does take priority and alters horizons for a while. Am an aficionado of the books, the weblogs and the interesting and absorbing research on London; particularly on yr speciality, the Victorian era.

    If one is tethered to a place for a period, London ain't half a lively place to be confined to. Yr talk, and the subject is tantalising - will have to keep an eye out for future talk dates and get in to London more often.

  5. I'm in the process of reading your Daily Life in Victorian London, and am enjoying it immensely. I was especially amused by the segment on the Baby Show. I had completely forgotten about baby showa, but I know they were in existence in the 1940's, when I was a child. I don't know when they started, or when they died out.

  6. Glad you're enjoying the book ... yes, I always thought baby shows were a 20thC thing, too ... but the Victorians invented everything! ;-)