Cuper's Gardens


  • Cuper's Gardens
  • Cupid's Gardens

Street/Area (default name)

  • Cuper's Gardens

Maps & Views


from the Grub Street Project, by Paul F. Rice (2022)

from London Past and Present: Its History, Associations, and Traditions, by Henry Benjamin Wheatley and Peter Cunningham (1891)

Cuper's Gardens, Lambeth, over against Somerset House in the Strand, a place once noted for its fireworks, subsequently as a resort of the profligate of both sexes. It was named after Boydell Cuper, a gardener in the family of Thomas, Earl of Arundel, who, when Arundel House was taken down, had interest enough to procure many of the mutilated marbles, which he carried across the water to the garden he had erected as a place of popular amusement. Cuper's Gardens were subsequently kept by a widow of the name of Evans, and finally suppressed as a place of public diversion in 1753.

Near the Bankside lyes a very pleasant garden in which are fine walks, known by the name of Cupid's gardens. They are the estate of Jesus College in Oxford, and erected by one who keeps a publick-house; which, with the conveniency of its arbours, walks, and several remains of Greek and Roman antiquities, have made this place much frequented.&mdahs;Aubrey's Surrey.

The light coquettish trip! the glance askew!
To slip the vizor, and to skulk anew!
For Cuper's Bowers, she hires the willing scull;
A cockswain's now, and now a sharper's trull.

Webster's Epistle on False Fame.

The Fleet Street sempstress, toast of Temple sparks,
That runs spruce neckcloths for attorney's clerks,
At Cupid's gardens will her hours regale,
Sing "fair Dorinda," and drink bottled ale.

Prologue to Mrs. Centlivre's Busv Body, 4to, 1708.

'Twas down in Cuper's garden
For pleasure I did go
To see the fairest flowers
That in that garden grow;
The first it was the jessamine,
The lily, pink, and rose,
And surely they're the fairest flowers
That in that garden grows.

Song, quoted in Miller's Fly Leaves [by Rimbault] 2d S., 1855, p. 53.

I dined the other day with a lady of quality, who told me she was going that evening to see the "finest fireworks!" at Marybone. I said fireworks was a very odd refreshment for this sultry weather; that, indeed, Cuper's-gardens had been once famous for this summer entertainment; but then his fireworks were so well understood, and conducted with so superior an understanding, that they never made their appearance to the company till they had been well cooled, by being drawn through a long canal of water, with the same kind of refinement that the Eastern people smoke their tobacco through the same medium.—Warburton to Hurd, July 9, 1753.

Bishop Hurd no doubt understood his brother prelate's account of the entertainment at Cuper's Gardens, but to the lay mind it is not easy to determine whether it was the fireworks or the company that were well cooled by being drawn through the long canal of water; in either case "the refreshment" was singular.

Dr. Johnson: Beauclerk, and I, and Langton, and Lady Sydney Beauclerk, mother to our friend, were one day driving in a coach by Cuper's-gardens, which were then unoccupied. I, in sport, proposed that Beauclerk, and Langton, and myself, should take them, and we amused ourselves with scheming how we should all do our parts. Lady Sydney grew angry and said, "An old man should not put such things in young people's heads." She had no notion of a joke, sir; had come late into life, and had a mighty unpliable understanding.—Boswell, by Croker, p. 366.

Lord Bath and Lord Sandys have had their pockets picked at Cuper's Gardens. I fancy it was no bad scene the avarice and jealousy of their peeresses on their return.—Horace Walpole to G. Montagu, June 24, 1746.

On the site of the gardens Messrs. Beaufoy formed their great works for the manufacture of British wines and vinegar, removed to South Lambeth on the erection of Waterloo Bridge. The present Waterloo Bridge Road runs over the very centre of Cuper's Gardens.