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Recipient of the 2015 Elisabeth Blair MacDougall Book Award
Society of Architectural Historians, Chicago,

for the Most Distinguished Work of Scholarship in the History of Landscape Architecture or
Garden Design 

'In this volume, David E Coke and Alan Borg present a social and cultural account of London through a scrupulous and scrumptious reconstruction of the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall (1661-1859), on the south bank of the Thames, a boat ride away from the city. At Vauxhall, aristocrats and commoners alike, and especially women, could seek a wealth of distractions and a breath of fresh air, all for a modest admission fee. In Coke and Borg's splendid narration, the landscape is featured not so much as a formal construct a simple layout of tree-lined avenues — as it is a vehicle for reform and artistic innovation. Particularly during the time of "master builder of delight" Jonathan Tyers, Vauxhall served as a framework for mechanical wonders to be showcased, art displayed, music performed, flesh (of different sorts) consumed, and behaviors fashioned and controlled. In his quest for innovation and financial solvency, Tyers established a cycle of invention and investment by creating a mass audience for artists while drawing on St. Martin's Lane Academy for a continuous supply of artworks. The descriptions and iconography of Vauxhall's visual, social and musical spectacle suggest both illusion and utter control. In turn the flexible landscape and its intense programming evoke a thoroughly modern vision. Vauxhall Gardens: A History is an exemplary work. Beautifully illustrated, it presents an interdisciplinary investigation of the pleasure garden in material and metaphorical terms.'
2015 Committee: Kelly Cook, Dorothy Imbert, Kathleen John-Alder     


Recipient of the Historians of British Art Book Prize for Best Multi-Authored Book published in 2011
Historians of British Art, an affiliated society of the College Art Association (North America)

Recipient of the John Brinkerhoff Jackson Book Prize for 2012
The Foundation for Landscape Studies, New York

Shortlisted for The Apollo Magazine 'Book of the Year' Award 2011

Shortlisted for The Spears Book Award 2012

Shortlisted for The Art Book Prize 2012
(originally the Sir Banister Fletcher Prize)

Shortlisted for The HBA Book Prize 2012

Marcus Binney has selected Vauxhall Gardens a History in his round up of 2011's best books on gardens for The Times - 'A lost world has rarely been more vividly and delightfully revived than in David Coke and Alan Borg's gloriously illustrated and scholarly account'

Jonathan Sumption's choice for Book of the Year Spectator 17 Nov 2012. - ' David Coke and Alan Borg have chronicled with wit and learning the raucous history of a place central to the social and literary history of Georgian London.


'A beguiling account of the enchantment of Vauxhall Gardens'
'Alan Borg and David Coke have resurrected it in a magnificent work of evocative scholarship'
Christopher Woodward, Country Life

'A weighty, scholarly book that gives substance and detail to this chimera. It feels as if every possible detail and document relating to the gardens has been scanned and assimilated. The result is the most complete reconstruction of this vital place there is likely to be.'
Rowan Moore, Guardian and Observer

' David Coke and Alan Borg's magnificent book is as sumptuous and surprising as its subject, packed with new research, and glowing with contemporary print and paintings'
'History overtook them and they had to go. But Coke and Borg's gorgeous book makes you wish they hadn't.'
John Carey, Sunday Times

'It's been eons since I sat down to peruse of book of such heft and beauty, so laden with visual and historical gems.'
Russell A. Potter, Ph.D., Professor of English, Rhode Island College

'meticulously researched and very readable history '
P. D. Smith, Guardian

'there was much more to the gardens than the concerts, as David Coke and Alan Borg reveal in their comprehensive, magnificently produced, history. Detailed contemporary descriptions, a readable style, and 300 or so images reproduced in a large format enable the reader to recreate Vauxhall in all its aspects and through each stage of its development . . .'
Jeremy Barlow, British Art Journal

'the first book-length treatment of Vauxhall for over 55 years and this fact-filled, lusciously-illustrated compendium provides the ultimate guide.'
'This study, with its thorough research, evocative quotations and quality illustrations, seduces the reader into Vauxhall's historic drama. The authors are clearly enamoured of their subject. And so, now, am I-let's bring back a pleasure garden to London. Maybe in time for the Olympics?'
Hannah Grieg, Lecturer in British History at the University of York, History Today

'Coke and Borg have researched contemporary ephemera to aid in their elegant reconstruction of this crossroads of high and low culture . . .this volume is well documented and excellently illustrated, while offering a rare combination of scholarly and captivating prose
. . .Simply a beautiful book, well written and stylishly produced, this is a grand contribution to the social and cultural history of London.'
Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York, Library Journal

'David Coke and Alan Borg have written an elegant, comprehensive and utterly absorbing account of Vauxhall Gardens, richly ornamented with illustrations.'
Michael Walker, The Times

'This sumptuous new volume has to be considered the definitive history to date. The authors go into every aspect of the 200-year-old life of this extraordinary open-air fun park, art gallery, concert hall, restaurant and (at times) brothel. We learn about its entrepreneurial owner Jonathan Tyers, while scores of illustrations and new ground plans bring the site to life as never before.'
Tim Richardson, Daily Telegraph

'This book, the first on the subject for over 50 years, paints a wonderfully evocative history of a destination that evolved from a rural tavern to a magical outdoor space for art, music and dining that was patronised by all levels of society.'
Apollo Magazine

'A sumptuous historical celebration of London's most famous and influential pleasure gardens'
Sunday Times

'Beautifully Produced'
Sunday Express

'Vauxhall Gardens is, like its subject, a huge, multifaceted and carefully crafted work of art which takes time to absorb properly… A triumph of historical detective work.'
Daniel Snowman, Literary Review

'As this splendid book reveals continually from chapter to chapter, Vauxhall, from its very beginnings, linked both high and low culture and in some ways prefigured the evolution of art and entertainment in modern times.'
Richard Edmonds, BirminghamPost

'A contender for most desirable Christmas gift of 2011... a page-turner par excellence.'
Andrew Green, Classical Music

'David Coke and Alan Borg have collected a vast array of information about the gardens and somehow managed to arrange it into a compelling narrative. The book is almost too heavy to pick up, almost impossible to put down. The illustrations, some 300 in all, are sumptuous: not merely inert accompaniments to the story, they are read with a wonderfully careful attention to what they can tell us about the way, year by year, decade by decade, the gardens were changed, in search of the blend of continuity and novelty that was the secret of Tyers's success in the glory years of Vauxhall.'.
John Barrell, The Times Literary Supplement

'This book is exactly what I have desired to find, after all these years. A comprehensive guide to EVERY aspect of the gardens: its history, the owners . . . The performers, especially the music and the musicians… the art on show in the dining booths . . .the fashions worn there . . .the way the gardens worked . . . the visitors. . .it is all covered in exquisite detail.' http://austenonly.com/2012/01/17/book-review-vauxhall-gardens-a-history-by-david-coke-and-alan-borg/

'David Coke delivers the fruits of more than 30 years spent researching Vauxhall in the Tyers era. Alan Borg completes the story by addressing the gardens' earlier and later years. Appropriately for the subject, Yale has ensured that it is also a pleasure to handle. It emphatically confirms Vauxhall's central place in what the late historian Roy Porter described as the "Georgian pleasure revolution".'
Oliver Garnett, The Art Newspaper





David Coke & Alan Borg

Vauxhall Gardens A History

Available at £55 from

Yale University Press

to order a copy please follow the link to Yale University Press

From their early beginnings in the Restoration until the final closure in Queen Victoria's reign, Vauxhall Gardens developed from a rural tavern and place of assignation into a dream-world filled with visual arts and music, and finally into a commercial site of mass entertainment. A social magnet for Londoners and tourists, they also became a dynamic centre for the arts in Britain. By the eighteenth century, when the Gardens were owned and managed by Jonathan Tyers - friend of Handel, Hogarth and Fielding - they were crucial to the cultural and fashionable life of the country, patronized by all levels of society, from royal dukes to penurious servants. In the first book on the subject for over fifty years, Alan Borg and David E. Coke reveal the teeming life, the spectacular art and the ever-present music of Vauxhall in fascinating detail. In the nineteenth century the Gardens remained a popular attraction, but faced increasing competition from new forms of entertainment such as the circus and the music hall and, with the arrival of the railway, the seaside. Nevertheless, they remained a prominent feature of London life right up to their closure in 1859. Borg and Coke's historical exposition of the entire history of the foremost pleasure garden of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century London makes a major contribution to the study of London entertainments, art, music, sculpture, class and ideology, and puts into a very particular context an unusual combination of subjects. It reveals how Vauxhall linked high and popular culture in ways that look forward to the manner in which both art and entertainment have evolved in modern times