Vauxhall Gardens, originally called New Spring Gardens, were established on this site c1660. John Barrell wrote that "Vauxhall pleasure gardens, on the south bank of the Thames, entertained Londoners and visitors to London for 200 years. From 1729, under the management of Jonathan Tyers, property developer, impresario, patron of the arts, the gardens grew into an extraordinary business, a cradle of modern painting and architecture, and... music.... A pioneer of mass entertainment, Tyers had to become also a pioneer of mass catering, of outdoor lighting, of advertising, and of all the logistics involved in running one of the most complex and profitable business ventures of the eighteenth century in Britain." After the gardens closed in 1839, the site was urbanised - and then cleared to make the present Spring Gardens. To experience the atmosphere of the old Vauxhall Gardens, the best plan is to visit Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen. For more information on Vauxhall Gardens see David Coke & Alan Borg Vauxhall Gardens A History (Yale University Press)
Demolition created vacant land 1972-6 and, as the Vauxhall City Farm put it 'By 1977, a group of architects were squatting at St Oswald’s Place and began working on a small vacant plot… Jubilee City Farm (as it was then known) was born! It was a collaborative project with local residents growing vegetables, providing for themselves and caring for livestock.' The farm is on the southern border of Springfield Park and makes use of land in the park for riding and grazing.
The scale and use of the space is much closer to that of a garden than a farm. Inevitably, and delightfully, it has many similarities to the garden of a small medieval manor (1) it has animals as well as plants, including horses, cows, ducks, chickens and pigs (2) it is not a flower garden or a pleasure garden (3) it is rather untidy (4) many of the vegetables are grown in raised beds retained by wooden boards - this is the origin of the word 'border' as now used in 'flower border'.
Spring Gardens and Vauxhall City Farm, Tyers Street, London, Greater London, England, SE11 5HS