How did London's Vauxhall Gardens become so hugely popular?

In this talk, Penelope Corfield explores the clever showmanship of the impresario Jonathan Tyers and the eager expectations of the crowds who thronged there in their thousands. The result was a scene of liberty but not licentiousness; of mass conviviality but not chaos; plus all manner of socio-sexual encounters! It was a great formula, which could not last for ever. But in its heyday, it worked like true Georgian magic. 

You will have the opportunity to view the exhibition, Georgian Illuminations, both before and after Penelope's talk.

About the speaker

Penelope Corfield studies the history of social dynamics. Her most recent book is The Georgians; The Deeds and Misdeeds of C18th Britain (Yale University Press, 2022; paperback 2023). She is Emeritus Professor at Royal Holloway, University of London; Research Fellow at Newcastle University; and was from 2019 to 2023 the President of the International Society for C18th Studies.

About the event

Tuesday 24 October, 2023
Doors open at 6.30pm
Talk 7–8pm
Exhibition viewing 8–8.30pm

We are in a Grade I listed, 19th-century building, so access is not always straightforward. If you require step-free access or extra assistance, please contact us in advance of your booking on or 020 7405 2107.

Your confirmation email serves as your ticket.

Tickets are refundable up to 7 days before the event, after which point they are non-refundable or exchangeable.

Image: Robert Pollard after Thomas Rowlandson, Vaux-Hall, aquatint, c.1786