Ranelagh Gardens, usually seen as the most august and respectable summer-time pleasure garden of Georgian London, was opened in Chelsea in 1742, in direct competition with its rather less reputable counterpart, the hugely successful Vauxhall Gardens, just over the river Thames in south Lambeth. Ranelagh's proprietors sought not only to exploit Vauxhall's success, but also to learn by its mistakes; their strategy was to construct, in a garden previously laid out for the Earl of Ranelagh by George London and Henry Wise, a gigantic round building or Rotunda where visitors could promenade, take refreshments, and listen to music without worrying about the cold, wet or windy weather …
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Coke, David Edward. "Ranelagh Gardens". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 September 2009
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=7203, accessed 28 May 2017.]