"I came to the gardens with the impression that I was about to see something excelling all other splendid objects which I had hitherto beheld. Nor was I disappointed. For, as we entered, a scene presented itself splendid beyond description, and almost beyond conception, exceeding all that poets have told of fairy lands and Elysian fields."~Benjamin Silliman*
Vauxhall Gardens was just one of the many evening entertainments London had to offer. The Gardens featured everything to tantalize the senses. Visual displays, succulent food, orchestral arrangements and an overall ambiance that could be described exactly as Mr Silliman said, a fairy land.
During the Regency, Vauxhall was known for the fireworks, wafer-thin ham and the dark walks. The Gardens were open from June 4th until the end of August, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights. Entrance could be gained with 3 shillings and 6 pence from 1809 to 1850, when the price dropped to 1 shilling. Anyone with the entrance fee was allowed in, regardless of station. It was one of the few places in London where the lower classes could mingle with the upper.
On a fun note, according to the currency convertor on The National Archives site, the entrance fee in 1810 (3s6d) would be approximately equivalent to £5.94 today. In 1850, when the fee changed to 1s, today's spending equivalent would be £2.93.
*Further reading (all link to full view google books and should open in a new window or tab): London and its Environs; or, The General Ambulator, and Pocket Companion for the Tour of the Metropolis and its Vicinity..., 1820; Curiosities of London by John Timbs, 1868; A Journal of travels in England, Holland and Scotland, and of two passages over the Atlantic in the years 1805 and 1806 by Benjamin Silliman, 1812