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Royal Surrey Gardens facts for kids

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Spurgeon Surrey
Charles Spurgeon preaching to a packed Surrey Music Hall in 1858

Royal Surrey Gardens were pleasure gardens in Newington, Surrey, London in the Victorian period, slightly east of The Oval. The gardens occupied about 15 acres (6.1 ha) to the east side of Kennington Park Road, including a lake of about 3 acres (1.2 ha). It was the site of Surrey Zoological Gardens and Surrey Music Hall.

The gardens were the grounds of the manor house of Walworth, that is also the civil parish of Newington, Surrey. The site was acquired in 1831 by impresario Edward Cross to be the location of his new Surrey Zoological Gardens, using animals from his menagerie at Exeter Exchange, in competition with the new London Zoo in Regent's Park. A large circular domed glass conservatory was built in the gardens, 300 feet (90 m) in circumference with more than 6,000 square feet (560 m2) of glass, to contain separate cages for lions, tigers, a rhinoceros, and giraffes. The gardens were heavily planted with native and exotic trees and plants, and dotted with picturesque pavilions.

Surrey Gardens 1850
Surrey Gardens in 1850

The gardens were used for large public entertainments from 1837, such as re-enactments of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the Great Fire of London, or the storming of Badajoz, using large painted sets up to 80 feet (24 m) high, and spectacular firework displays, as had become popular at Vauxhall Gardens before its demise. Later, it was used for promenade concerts. The gardens suffered intense competition from the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851.

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