OPENING as New Spring Gardens, Kennington, in 1661, Vauxhall Gardens was a pleasure garden, somewhere for a Londoner to experience a taste of nature, offering trees, walks, music and the chance to meet the opposite sex.
It became known as Vauxhall Gardens in 1785 but the last remnant of the site is the small public park called Spring Gardens.
In its early days it had a very dubious reputation but grew over the years to become a highly fashionable and sometimes very expensive place. In May, 1668, Samuel Pepys noted in his diary that he fell in with some rogues there ‘ready to take hold of every woman that came by them’. In 1786, however, a jubilee attracted more than 60,000 people in fancy dress, including the Prince of Wales, despite tickets costing half a guinea.
The name Vauxhall comes from Faulke de Breaute, the head of King John’s mercenaries, who had an estate nearby called as Faulke’s Hall, later Foxhall, and then Vauxhall. The Russian word for a major railway station is Vokzal but dates back to the 1770s when it meant amusement park, probably being derived from the then world-famous London park. The first Russian railway, opened in 1837, ran from Saint Petersburg to Pavlovsk, where there was a famous Pleasure Garden. The name Vokzal soon came to be applied to the station and was then used for any later large train station.