Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Societies - Horticultural Society of London / Royal Horticultural Society

Horticultural Society's Gardens, Chiswick. Admission, daily by tickets only, obtainable of members. But for the summer exhibitions of fruit and flowers, always held on Saturdays, and regularly advertised in the public papers, the admission is by tickets generally, price 5s., purchaseable at the places named in the advertisement.

Mogg's New Picture of London and Visitor's Guide to it Sights, 1844

HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY OF LONDON. Established 1804, and incorporated by Royal Charter, 1809; office, 21, REGENT STREET. This society has three exhibitions every year, in May, June, and July, at its gardens at Chiswick, and distributes medals for the best flowers and fruit shown at each exhibition. The highest prize is the Certificate of Honour, worth about 20l.; large gold Knightian medal, valued at 15l.; the gold Knightian, at 10l.; and the gold Banksian, at 7l. There are smaller prizes, and all persons, whether Fellows of the Society or not, are at liberty to send subjects for exhibition. There are three classes. Class I - Flowers: for which nurserymen and private growers exhibit independently of each other. Class II - Flowers: for which all persons are admitted to equal competition. Class III - Fruit : for which market-gardeners, fruiterers, or other persons in the habit of supplying the market, and private growers, exhibit independently of each other. Visitors to the exhibitions at Chiswick are admitted by tickets only, price 5s. each, to be obtained at 21, Regent-street, by the personal or written order of Fellows of the Society, previous to the day on which the exhibition takes place. Tickets taken on the day of exhibition are 7s 6d each. The May exhibition is the best for flowers; the June for the company; and the July for the fruit. Member's entrance fee, 6 guineas; annual subscription, 4 guineas. The gardens at Chiswick are open from 9 o'clock every day, except Sunday, and visitors are introduced either personally or by an order from a Fellow. Meetings are held in Regent-street on certain Tuesdays in the year, at which prizes are also awarded.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850

HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY, South Kensington and Chiswick, under the presidency of the late Prince Consort, was established in 1804, and incorporated in 1809. Its grounds at Chiswick (on the bank of the Thames), occupying thirty- three acres, are divided into the hot-house, arboretum, kitchen-garden, and orchard departments. Here, during the summer months, were held the famous Chiswick Fetes; but of late years, from various causes, their attraction had declined, and the Society has accordingly leased twenty acres of ground at South Kensington, belonging to the Commissioners of the Exhibition of 1851, and upwards of 50,000l. has been expended by them and the Commissioners in there creating a charming London "Arcadia;" a fairy land of groves and bowers and fountains, and many-coloured walks, terraces, and pavilions; a species of "Armida garden," where the heroes of the "Decameron" might have been content to disport themselves. There is, perhaps, no more attractive spot in the immediate neighbourhood of London, and certainly no place could be better adapted for grand exhibitions of flowers and fruits. It was opened in 1861, and the inaugural fête gave fair promise of future success.
    The Council Chamber, the Band-houses on the upper terraces, the charming conservatory, and the lower east and south arcades, were designed by Captain Fowke; the upper east arcade, and the curving northern arcade, by Mr. Sydney Smirke, the latter in imitation of the arcade of the Villa Albani, at Rome. Remark the ribbon, or embroidery beds; Rauch's fine statues of Victory, and the noble sculptured memorial of the Great Exhibition of 1851, with its figures of the Queen, and Europe, Asia, America, and Africa.
    The International Exhibition of 1862 adjoins these charming gardens, thus affording to the stranger a double attraction. He will obtain, however, but a cursory view of either if he attempts to "do" both lions in one day.

Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865

Horticultural Gardens, 1871 [ILN Picture Library]

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Horticultural Society (Royal).The gardens are at South Kensington, and the ground is leased to the society by the Commissioners of the Great Exhibition of 1851 on certain terms. Privileges of a Fellow paying £4 4s. a year :—1. Entitled to personal admission at all times when the gardens are open to Fellows, and two yearly transferable tickets. N. B. The garden at Chiswick is closed on Sunday, and the garden at South Kensington is open from 2 p.m. 2. The right of introducing two friends with the bearer of each ticket, show and special days excepted. 3. The power of admitting (Sundays excepted) eight friends by written order at Chiswick. 4. To visit the shows at 12 o’clock, being an hour earlier than the general public. 5. To purchase for £2 2s. each, transferable tickets, which confer on their bearers all privileges that Fellows themselves could exercise. 6. To receive 40 orders, giving free admission on all days excepting show and special days. 7. The right of purchasing before-hand tickets at reduced prices. 8. A share of such seeds, &c., as the society may have in sufficient number. 9. To purchase the flowers, fruit, &c., grown at Chiswick not required for scientific purposes. 10. To receive a copy of the publications of the society. 11. The right of voting at all meetings. 12. The right of relief from the yearly payments while resident abroad. 13. Free admission to the reading room and Lindley library. 14. The wives or husbands of deceased Fellows, upon being themselves elected Fellows, are exempted from the admission fee. Privileges of a Fellow paying £2 2s. a year —15. Entitled to personal admission, as in No. 1, and to one transferable yearly ticket, admitting the bearer every day, and to all shows, fetes, conversazioni, and promenades. Entitled to half the privileges mentioned in Nos. 3, 6, and 8. 17. The same as Nos. 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14. Privileges of a £1 1s. member :—Entitled to one ticket, not transferable, giving the owner admission on all ordinary occasions and to all shows and promenades at Chiswick and South Kensington, but not to the annual or special general meetings of the society, nor does it entitle the member to vote on any matters relating to the affairs of the society. The society being incorporated by Royal Charter, the Fellows incur no personal liability beyond the payment of their annual subscriptions. The fixtures for 1879 are: Agricultural Society’s Show, Tuesday, April 22nd ; Great Summer Show, from Tuesday, May 27th, to Friday, May 30th, both days inclusive; Whit Monday Show, Monday, June 1st; Rose and Pelargonium Society’s Show, Tuesday, June 24th; Carnation and Picotee Society’s Show; also exhibition of British Bee-keepers’ Association, Tuesday, July 22nd. For Chiswick from Waterloo (20 min.) 1st, -/11, 1/4 ; 2nd, -/9, 1/-; 3rd, -/7, -/10. NEAREST Railway Station, South Kensington; Omnibus Route, Kensington-road; Cab Rank, Kensington-road.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

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Black's Guide to London and Its Environs, (8th ed.) 1882

Victorian London - Publications - History - The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896 - The Royal Horticultural Gardens, Chiswick

The Royal Horticultural Gardens, Chiswick - photograph


With the object of promoting scientific gardening the Royal Horticultural Society was founded in 1804, and fourteen years later experimental gardens were established between the famous Chiswick House, where Charles James Fox and George Canning died, and Turnham Green. Then, as now, fetes were occasionally held here. But in 1861 new gardens were acquired at South Kensington, and thenceforward Chiswick was a kind of supply stores for the new property nearer town. In the fulness of time, however, the South Kensington Gardens were appropriated as a site for the Imperial Institute and the Royal College of Music, and the Chiswick Gardens have recovered their original status. In the Glass-house shown above are many fine horticultural specimens.