Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Gardens and Spas - Weston's Retreat, Kentish Town


    This garden in the present Highgate Road had a brief existence circa 1858-1865, under the management of Edward Weston, the proprietor of Weston's (afterwards the Royal) Music Hall in Holborn. A good deal was crowded into a small space, for besides the choice flowers, shrubs, and fruit-trees, there was a conservatory, a cascade, a racquet-court, a small dancing platform and orchestra, and a panorama 1,600 feet long, representing 'the sea-girt island of Caprera, the home of the Italian Liberator' (Garibaldi). This encircled the garden, and was lit at night by variegated gas-jets, stated - but the garden illuminator always exaggerates - to be 100,000 in number. The admission was usually only sixpence.   
    Some of the entertainers of the Polytechnic Institution were engaged to combine instruction with amusement, and Mr. A.Sylvester exhibited there his patent optical illusion called - though hardly by Mr. Weston's patrons - the Kalospinthechromokrene.
There were complaints about the way in which this miniature Cremorne was conducted, and the Sunday opening was particularly objected to by its respectable neighbours. . . . Thus, when the Midland Railway Company appeared on the scene, there were many who welcomed its purchase of Mr. Weston's pleasure-garden. In October 1866, the trees, orchestra, gas-fittings, tea-cups, and everything belonging to the place were sold off by auction.
    The Retreat was in Fitzroy Place, the entrance being between the present houses numbered 93 and 97, Highgate Road.

Warwick Wroth, Cremorne and the later London Gardens, 1907