Highlighting Susana Ellis’s love of Vauxhall Gardens.
Vauxhall Gardens has become a bit of an obsession with me. I even visited there last September, even though it has become little more than a small grassy area between the Vauxhall Underground station, Kennington Lane, and the busy Vauxhall Bridge. The Orchestra building being long gone, there was no music, no odors of food, no thousands of Chinese lanterns dangling from the trees. Above all, there were no crowds of people—ladies in elegant gowns, gentlemen in embroidered waistcoats and neatly tied cravats strolling along next to the more plainly-dressed, lower-class visitors—all seeking the wide variety of pleasures offered by Jonathan Tyers’ brilliant conception of an outdoor summer retreat from the unpleasant smells of London in summer. In fact, the only hints of its magnificent past—other than the sign at the entrance—were the names of streets—Tyers Street, Vauxhall Street—and buildings—Tyers Terrace, Royal Vauxhall Tavern, and even, Vauxhall Starbuck’s!
In its heyday, Vauxhall employed hundreds, if not thousands, of people, and it is those people I am determined to learn more about. Most of them do not have names, but thanks to David Coke and Alan Borg’s careful research and subsequent brilliant book (Vauxhall Gardens: A History) and equally helpful website (vauxhallgardens.com), we do have some idea of the work involved in building, maintaining, and constantly upgrading, a venue of this magnitude. For example, here are a few of the workers employed by Tyers and his successors over the years, singers and entertainers not included:
Waiter, waitress, houseboy, errand-boy, porter, painter, cellarman, artists’ color grinder, stable-boy, manager, constable, gardener, garden constable, housekeeper, wine butler, money-taker, kitchen maid, machinist, lamplighter, property master, carpenter, punch maker, laborer, cook, lighting director, illumination director, cigar bar, painter, decorator, pastry maker, baker, publicity writer, costumier, watchman, architect, master of the tap-house, equestrian director, gas fitter.
In my Vauxhall Vixens series, I intend to look a bit closer into the lives of those workers who made Vauxhall the marvel that it was, taking the liberty to create romantic HEA’s for deserving characters who do not live in mansions or dance at Almack’s. You see, I believe romance existed for the common folk as well as the aristocrats, and they deserve to have their story told.
About the Book
Book 1, The Malicious Rumor, is a romance between a strong, ambitious lady gardener and an immigrant violinist who hasn’t found London terribly welcoming.
Vauxhall gardener Alice Crocker has had to defend herself from encroaching males all her life, but the new violinist is a different sort. So when she discovers that he is the victim of a malicious rumor, she naturally wants to help.
Peter de Luca greatly admires the lady gardener, but this is his problem to resolve.
What will it take to prove to this pair that they would be stronger together as a harmonious duo than two lonely solos?
You can find The Malicious Rumor in the Bluestocking Belles’ 2017 anthology, Never Too Late. I’d really love it if you would give it a read and shoot me some ideas for the next story in the series.
About the Author
Susana Ellis has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar. A former teacher, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA, Maumee Valley Romance Inc., and the (in)famous Bluestocking Belles.
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