Adam and Eve Tea Gardens
Tottenham Court was a popular place of amusement in the 17th century. George Wither, in Britain’s Remembrances (1628), said:
And Hogsdone, Islington and Tottenham Court
For cakes and cream had then no small resort.
In 1645 a maidservant and two others were fined 1s apiece for ‘drinking at Tottenhall Court on the Sabbath daie’. Wycherley in the Gentleman Dancing Master (1673) couples ‘a ramble to Totnam Court’ with the other fashionable diversions of visiting the mulberry garden and Vauxhall.
The Adam and Eve existed at least as early as 1718 on the site of the manor house at the northern end of Tottenham Court Road. In the 18th century, it had a long room with an organ, bowling alleys and extensive gardens with arbours for tea drinking.
On 13 May 1785 Vincenzo Lunardi, the balloonist, took off from the Honourable Artillery Company ground on his maiden flight and descended here within 20 minutes. ‘He was immediately surrounded by great numbers of the populace and though he proposed reascending they were not to be dissuaded from bearing him in triumph on their shoulders.’
Towards the end of the 18th century the gardens became hemmed in with houses and were frequented by criminals and prostitutes. In the early 19th century they were shut by the magistrates. They were reopened as a tavern in 1813. In 1838 a description of them reads: ‘A house standing alone, with spacious trees in the rear and at the sides, and a forecourt with large timber trees, and tables and benches for out of door customers. In the gardens were fruit trees, and bowers, and arbours for tea drinking parties. In the rear there were not any houses; now there is a town.’
Excerpted from The London Encyclopaedia by kind permission of the Publishers, Pan MacMillan.