During their heyday in the mid-eighteenth century the pleasure gardens were one of the hubs of polite society. Laid out with formal gardens and buildings for dining and amusement, the pleasure gardens were the scene of upper class exercise and entertainment. Most famous were Vauxhall Gardens, Cremorne Gardens and Ranelagh Gardens. In Bath, Sydney Gardens is the only English pleasure garden that has not since been closed and built over. This book tells the story of the pleasure gardens, explaining their beginnings in the seventeenth century, their rising social importance, the variety of entertainment contained within, and their eventual decline into seedy hangouts for gamblers, thieves and prostitutes.