Tag Archive | Charles Burney

1814 Vauxhall and Drury Lane: The Belles’ Time Travel Machine

I hope you enjoyed your stay in WWI France via Caroline Warfield’s Blog. You are now once again in Regency England! A Malicious Rumor in the Bluestocking Belles’ Never Too Late anthology—takes place this year (as well as The Umbrella Chronicles: George and Dorothea’s Story, but you have already been there, right?), but we hope this is not your last stop via The Bluestocking Belles’ Time Machine.

Miss Alice Crocker and Mr. Peter de Luca from A Malicious Rumor are both employees of Vauxhall Gardens. Alice is a gardener and Peter is a violinist. Peter was unfairly dismissed from the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and Alice and her grandfather help him seek justice.

Events at Vauxhall Gardens in 1814

The season began on 15 June and ended on 26 August. The finale was highlighted by a double display of fireworks by Mons. Bologna and Signor D. Mortram.

Fireworks temple

Mme. Sarah Hengler (wife of Michael Hengler who died in 1802) performed fireworks and illuminations that year.

Mme. Sarah Hengler

Sig. Vincento de Mortram, Mme. Hengler’s rival, also performed fireworks at Vauxhall that year.

Mrs. Maria Theresa Bland was a featured performer that summer. Mrs. Bland was married to the brother of Mrs. Jordan of Covent Garden. Her mezzo-soprano voice was ideal for the singing of English ballads. Her sons Charles and James were also singers.

Maria Theresa Bland, née Romanzini

Charles Dignum first appeared in 1794, but became notable at Vauxhall during the first two decades of the 19th century. He was well-known for his duets with Mrs Bland, especially Long Time I’ve Courted You, Miss,  a dialogue between a shy sailor and a flirtatious lady.

Charles Dignum

Charles Burney, father of novelists Frances (Fanny) Burney and Sarah Burney, who played the violin and viola at Vauxhall, died that year.

Charles Burney

Natale Corri, brother of Domenico Corri who was the manager of Vauxhall in 1812, composed for the Pandean band from 1810-1815.

Pandean Band

James Hook was keyboard player and composer at Vauxhall from 1772–1821. Hook wrote over two thousand songs for Vauxhall, and played organ concertos on many thousands of occasions.

James Hook by Lemuel Francis Abbott

Mr. F. Ware was music leader that year.

Mr. Burgess was punch maker for Vauxhall that year, and for a total of 40 years.

Mrs. Margarit Ross was housekeeper from 1811-1834. A permanent employee who was also in charge of the bars, Mrs. Ross kept one female assistant throughout the year. In 1822 she was paid £100 per annum.

Mr. C.H. Simpson was Master of Ceremonies from 1797-1835. In 1823, he was making £34 per season.  “…the wondrous master of the ceremonies, the ‘gentle Simpson, that kind smiling idiot,’ whose personality is preserved in the wonderful etching by Robert Cruikshank…” (Amusements of Old London, William Boulton, 1901).

Robert Cruikshank, C.H. Simpson Esq.

Mr. Charles Taylor was Director of Music that year. He was one of the longest-serving and most popular Vauxhall singers, especially noted for his comic songs. He made the speech on the last night of the season several times.

Mr. Jonathan Tyers Barrett and Rev. George Rogers Barrett, both grandchildren of Vauxhall founder Jonathan Tyers, co-owned Vauxhall after the death of Jonathan Tyers Jr. in 1792 until it was sold in 1821.

Events at Drury Lane

Edmund Kean played Shylock in The Merchant of Venice for the first time on 26 January. On 12 February, he played Richard III.

On 2 March, Jane Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra: “Places are secured at Drury Lane for Saturday, but so great is the rage for seeing Kean that only a third and fourth row could be got.” On 5 March: “We were quite satisfied with Kean. I cannot imagine better acting, but the part was too short; and, excepting him and Miss Smith, and she did not quite answer my expectation, the parts were ill filled and the play heavy.”

Sarah Smith Bartley

Edmund Kean played Hamlet for the first time on 12 March. On 5 May: first performance as Othello. On 7 May: first performance as Iago. On 25 May: a benefit and first performance of Luke in Riches. On 5 November: first performance as Macbeth.

Farewell—and a Giveaway

Thank you for dropping in. Your next stop will be on Sherry Ewing’s blog, but you might want to go back to The Bluestocking Belles Time Machine and hop around at will. I wish you safe travels.

Don’t forget, each comment on every stop of the Time Machine will be counted as an entry to win a grand prize of a $25 gift voucher from Amazon and a print copy of Never Too Late.

In addition, one random commenter here will win all three of these prizes at the end of December.

William Shakespeare Ornament

 

Vauxhall Charm Bracelet

 

Supper-boxes Necklace

Adieu, Time Traveler. Try not to land in the midst of the Black Plague, the Great Fire of London or the sack of Rome!

About Never Too Late

Eight authors and eight different takes on four dramatic elements selected by our readers—an older heroine, a wise man, a Bible, and a compromising situation that isn’t.

Set in a variety of locations around the world over eight centuries, welcome to the romance of the Bluestocking Belles’ 2017 Holiday Anthology.

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About A Malicious Rumor

Excerpt from A Malicious Rumor

Alice found her feet tapping in time to the music of the orchestra rehearsal while she inspected the site for the new illumination, which would honor the new Duke of Wellington after his victory over Bonaparte at the Battle of Paris. If only the designer had included the measurements! It was difficult to decide how to arrange the plantings without some inkling of the space requirements. With luck, the fellow himself would arrive soon, since the spectacle was planned to open the next day.

Miss Stephens must be singing tonight, she thought as she found herself humming the tune of the popular Northumberland ballad about a brave lass who rowed out in a storm to save her shipwrecked sailor beau.

O! merry row, O! merry row the bonnie, bonnie bark,

Bring back my love to calm my woe,

Before the night grows dark.

She liked the idea of a woman rescuing her man instead of the other way around. It might seem romantic to be rescued by a handsome prince, but one could not always be a damsel in distress, could one? Alice knew from her mother’s marriage that there was no happiness or romance in a marriage where one partner held all the power. She herself had no intention of placing herself in the power of any man. She would be responsible to no one but herself—and perhaps her employer, as long as she was permitted to work for a living. She narrowed her eyes. She could work as well as any man, better than some, in fact. Why did so many men feel threatened by that?

Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part I

vauxhallbook

Vauxhall Gardens: A History

David Coke & Alan Borg

The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is one of the places I’d love to slip back in time to visit, just to catch a glimpse of what it was like. After recently splurging to buy this lovely coffee-table book, I thought it might make a wonderful subject for a new blog series. But do buy the book too, if you can! The photos are fabulous!

While the years from 1732 to 1786 were the undoubtedly the heyday of Vauxhall, the years following the Jubilee continued to attract large numbers of visitors and was the most popular outdoor entertainment for many years. Charles Burney’s daughter Sarah wrote in 1807:

You should quit your Devonshire Shades were it only to share in the universal rage there is for going to Vauxhall. I never knew anything like it. The whole London World seems to be seized with a fit of the fool.

Vauxhall fashions

Vauxhall Fashions, engraving (David Coke’s collection) from La Belle Assemblée no. 7 (August 1806). Many dressmakers and retailers advertised their wares as representing the latest fashions seen at Vauxhall.

Scenes from Vauxhall were presented on stage, authors such as John Keats, Pierce Egan, and William Thackeray wrote about it, and others tried to copy it, in London and elsewhere. Bath’s Sydney Gardens, opened in 1795 and much visited by Jane Austen, was modeled on Vauxhall in London, as was Tivoli in Copenhagen. Vauxhalls started appearing everywhere.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

One half of the world don’t know how t’other lives, Sung by Mr. Dignum in Vauxhall Gardens, etching, 1805 (British Museum, London, 1861.0518.1087). A very popular tenor at the gardens, Dignum also gave the farewell address at the end of several seasons.

A change in clientele

In the early nineteenth century, however, with England’s middle and working classes rapidly expanding due to the Industrial Revolution and the rapid growth of London’s population, Vauxhall’s clientele began to change as well.

The social balance was changing too; the old aristocracy watched nervously as France spiralled into revolutionary chaos, and several of the great families decided to move back to the country, to avoid the potential dangers of urban unrest… In addition, social circles were becoming more restricted and inward-looking; the London aristocracy was being rapidly overtaken in terms of numbers by the professional middle classes of industrialists, businessmen, doctors and lawyers. To support them, huge numbers of labourers, tradesmen and servants moved to the capital.

Because of this influx, houses began to pop up in and around Vauxhall, which meant that the Kennington Street area was no longer a country hamlet, but a part of the city itself, and the residents didn’t always appreciate all the racket coming from Vauxhall in the early hours of the morning.

Picturesque Elevation of the Iron Bridge created over the Thames at Vauxhall, engraving, 1816 (David Coke's collection). Designed by the engineer James Walker, the new bridge greatly shortened the land journey from London to Vauxhall Gardens.

Picturesque Elevation of the Iron Bridge created over the Thames at Vauxhall, engraving, 1816 (David Coke’s collection). Designed by the engineer James Walker, the new bridge greatly shortened the land journey from London to Vauxhall Gardens.

A significant advantage was the completion of the new Vauxhall Bridge in August 1816, which shortened considerably the route from the West End.

The bridge remained open all night, both for pedestrians and for coaches, catering for those revellers who stayed on into the small hours, to the annoyance of the local residents who were trying to sleep.

A change of attractions

The form of the entertainments at Vauxhall remained traditional to the end of the eighteenth century. Various new attractions were introduced only gradually and these were directly in response to new forms of popular entertainment that had sprung up elsewhere in London.

One of these was Philip Astley’s enormously popular shows, with “daring displays of horsemanship”, as well as jugglers, tight-rope walkers, and great pageants of historical events. See my post of Astley’s Amphitheatre here.

Vauxhall had always promoted patriotic songs and military bands, and later added battle reconstructions and victory celebrations, after Astley’s model. The Battle of Waterloo was considered to be the “most spectacular event ever staged at Vauxhall.”

Boat races on the Thames was another innovation, which including a rowing race for watermen and a sailing match for ‘gentlemen’s pleasure sailing boats’. Which was followed by a grand gala in the gardens, of course. In 1812, the contest was called the Vauxhall Grand Regatta.

Vauxhall Sailing Match, engraving, 1800 (Minet Library, London, Lambeth Archives Department, V. fo. 57). This appears to be the only surviving image of one of the Vauxhall sailing matches.

Vauxhall Sailing Match, engraving, 1800 (Minet Library, London, Lambeth Archives Department, V. fo. 57). This appears to be the only surviving image of one of the Vauxhall sailing matches.

Advances in science and technology brought ballooning to the gardens, the first balloon ascension beginning in 1802, but not becoming a regular feature until the 1820’s. André Jacques Garnerin, the first Vauxhall aeronaut, experimented with making parachute jumps from balloons. One of his flights included releasing a cat from a height of 600 feet, who descended safely into some resident’s garden. George Colman the younger, a playwright, wrote

Poor Puss in a grand parachute
Was sent to sail down through the air
Plump’d into a garden of fruit,
And played up old Gooseberry there:
The gardener transpiring with fear,
Stared just like a hundred struck hogs;
And swore, tho’ the sky was quite clear,
‘Twas beginning to rain cats and dogs.

Fireworks, first introduced in 1783, were limited to special occasions at first, but pyrotechnic displays did not become standard until 1798.

When it was time for the fireworks to start, a bell was rung and everyone went to the firework ground at the far eastern end of the gardens. The hours varied, displays being advertised at 9, 10 and 11 p.m.; on gala nights there was often more than one show.

Changes in proprietors and prices

Jonathan Tyers the younger’s son-in-law, Bryant Barrett, managed the gardens until his death in 1809, when his sons Jonathan Tyers Barrett and George Rogers Barrett inherited. Jonathan Barrett became sole owner in 1818. In 1821, the gardens were leased to relatives and business partners Thomas Bish and Frederick Gye, later joined by Richard Hughes, “and the trio used their option to buy the property in 1825 for £30,000.”

In 1792, the price of admission was raised to 2 shillings for regular nights and 3 shillings for the Grand Galas (masquerades), which involved elaborate fancy dress.

 

Susana’s Vauxhall Blog Post Series