Ranelagh - Encyclopedia


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RANELAGH, formerly a popular resort by the Thames in Chelsea, London, England. About 1690 the land lying east of Chelsea Hospital, and bordering the river about the point where Chelsea Bridge now stands, was acquired by Richard, Viscount Ranelagh, later earl of Ranelagh (d. 1711). He built a mansion and laid out fine gardens, which, in 1742, were thrown open as a proprietary place of entertainment. A building called the Rotunda was erected for concerts, and the gardens quickly became a favourite resort of fashionable society. Balls and masquerades, exhibitions of fireworks, regattas and many other forms of amusement were provided; but by the close of the 18th century Ranelagh was ceasing to attract the public, and in 1803 the Rotunda was closed. The buildings were removed, and the grounds became the property of Chelsea Hospital. They are still included in the pleasant gardens belonging to that foundation, but no traces of the popular Ranelagh are preserved. There is, however, a fashionable modern club of the same name.

See Warwick Wroth, London Pleasure Gardens of the Eighteenth Century (London, 1896).

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