ROSEMARY BRANCH, HOXTON
Early in the thirties, the proprietor, a Mr. McPherson began to provide 'gala
nights' for the inhabitants of the district, and advertised his 'Branch' as the
Islington Vauxhall. In 1835 he is said to have spent £4,000 on the place, but
for some mysterious reason chose this moment for retiring from business. In
October 1836 the gardens were offered for sale- three acres only, but provided
with 'elevated terrace-walks' screened by trees, and with ground for rackets and
skittles. The place was taken by a new proprietor, who continued the fireworks
and illuminations, and introduced (1837) Mrs. Graham and her balloon, in which
she ascended with the gallant Colonel of the Honourable Lumber Troop.
A view of about the middle of the forties depicts the gardens as entirely surrounded by alcoves and trees, with two rope ascents and a pony race going on in the arena simultaneously, like Barnum's Circus. An admiring youth, a lady in an ample shawl and hat, and two gentlemen posed in the manner of tailors' models, occupy the foreground, while a crowd of onlookers stand in front of the circle of boxes. Festoons of coloured lamps, a minute balloon, a small theatre, and an orchestra, are also symbollic of the attractions of the Islington Vauxhall.
Early in the fifties, the spirited proprietor (William Barton) was advertising his ball-room and monster platform and introduced Moffat's Equestion Troupe and the Brothers Elliot, two clever acrobats from Batty's Hippodrome. The Chinese Exhibition, transplanted from Hyde Park, was expounded by a native interpreter 'whose pleasing description of the manners and customs of these Eastern people was in itself highly instructive and amusing.' John Hampton, a noted balloonist of the time, was also engaged for many ascents.
On July 27, 1853, the timber circus caught fire, and an ill-fated troupe of trained dogs and seven horses perished. I do not suggest that these seven horses constituted the whole of the garden stud, but after this time we happen to hear little of the Rosemary Branch as an open-air resort. It was always a place for visitors of humble rank, the admission being sixpence or a shilling. A ticket of 1853 notifies that persons not 'suitably attired' will be excluded. It was, moreover, announced that the M.C.s (Messrs. Franconi and Hughes) 'keep the strictest order' and a policeman or two hovered in the background.
Warwick Wroth, Cremorne and the later London Gardens, 1907