The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 3 St. James's and Green Parks

Fashionable popularity of Green Park

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About 1786 fashion began to desert the Mall for the Green Park, and the crowds which collected there were no longer intermingled with the Court circle. In a letter to her daughter Madame Roland describes the company in the Mall as very different from what it was a few years earlier, for though it was "very brilliant on a Sunday evening, and full of well-to-do people and well-dressed women, in general they are all tradespeople and citizens." A generation later the Mall seems to have become quite deserted. Sir Richard Phillips, in his morning's walk from London to Kew in 1817, bemoans the absence of the gay throng:- My spirits sank, and a tear started into my eyes, as I brought to mind those crowds of beauty, rank, and fashion which, until within these few years, used to be displayed in the centre Mall of this Park on Sunday evenings during spring and summer. How often in my youth had I been the delighted spectator of the enchanted and enchanting assemblage. Here used to promenade, for one or two hours after dinner, the whole British world of gaiety, beauty, and splendour. Here could be seen in one moving mass, extending the whole length of the Mall, 5000 of the most lovely women in this country of female beauty, all splendidly attired, and accompanied by as many well-dressed men. What a change, I exclaimed, has a few years wrought in these once happy and cheerful personages! How many of those who on this very spot then delighted my eyes are now mouldering in the silent grave !