Recently, author Susana Ellis ran a 23 part series about the history of Vauxhall Gardens on her blog, based upon the fabulous coffee table book she aquired, above. Chock full of historical tidbits and images, the series is not to be missed by anyone interested in the Gardens or London history. You'll find Part One of the series here.
I'm sure we all wish that the Gardens still existed so that we could wander the grounds and buildings and imagine ourselves walking beside the notables who promenaded the lanes whilst listening to the bands and watching the magnificent illuminations. Personally, I would have loved to have been there for the Waterloo Celebrations. These days, it often takes a lot of imagination to be able to disregard the trappings of modern London in order to envisage the past. On a prior trip to London, I stood upon Hampstead Heath and gazed down upon the City proper, imagining what the place might have looked like in the dark of night, with footpads and highwaymen laying in wait for unlucky travellers foolish enough to cross the Heath on moonless nights. I also walked the grounds of Ranelagh Gardens, now an offshoot of the grounds of the Royal Chelsea Hospital. No Rotunda, alas, nothing left but the images one carries in the mind and the heart.
Fortunately, intrepid seekers of the remnants of Vauxhall Gardens can contact London Trails, a London based company that offers walking tours using routes that follow old maps. Their Vauxhall Gardens tour is on my bucket list.