Monday 27th April 6.30pm at Chelsea Old Town Hall Tickets £15
Lecture by Jonathan King.
Ranelagh Garden in the 18th century was a place where people came to listen to music and other entertainments, and to see and be seen. The centrepiece of Ranelagh was a rococo rotunda, which figured prominently in views from the river. It had a diameter of 120 feet (37 metres) and was designed by William Jones, a surveyor to the East India Company. The central support housed a chimney and fireplaces for use in winter.
The Rotunda was an important venue for musical concerts, and in 1765, the nine-year-old Mozart performed there. Canaletto painted the gardens, and painted the interior of the Rotunda twice, for different patrons. The rotunda was closed in 1803 and demolished two years later. The organ was moved to All Saints Church, Evesham.
There was also a Chinese pavilion, added in 1750, an ornamental lake, and several walks. Ranelagh was a popular venue for romantic assignations. Edward Gibbon wrote that it was, “the most convenient place for courtships of every kind — the best market we have in England.”
Jonathan King, is an honorary fellow at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, and at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge.