Howard brings us all the best walks of his week in a salute to London Town, Howard’s endz!
This week I visited Rosemary Gardens for the very first time. We had been on our way to Shoreditch Park for some zoomies, but the nice weather had brought out picnics, sunbathers, football, boules, kites, and even a fun fair! So there was absolutely no space left for zoomies. So we decided to visit Rosemary Gardens, which is just a short walk away.
Rosemary Gardens is a small park, only 2.63 hectares (or 6.48 acres). But it is beside one of the best dog-friendly pubs in the world, the Rosemary Branch. So you can be sure to bump into some nice dogs while you are there. In fact, we met a lovely Cocker Spaniel and a little black Poodle puppy while we were there, as well as a little Chihuahua who had an enormous amount to say.
The lovely thing about Rosemary Gardens is that it is full of huge trees. I am told they are mature weeping ash trees, but they weren’t crying and they weren’t burning. So maybe I got that wrong. But it is like being in an enchanted forest when you are in there. And the whole place is a lovely grass meadow, so it is full of daisies and clover and so many wonderful smells.
As well as the lovely meadow there are also some things to keep humans entertained. There is a football pitch, and basketball hoops, and tennis courts, and changing rooms. I’m not sure what humans are changing into in there though. (One day I might ask Huw to check, because he can get away with anything. Because Huw is the cutest.)
Way back in the 16th century, the original Rosemary Branch Tavern was an important place for social and political life (a bit like today). Apparently the Levellers used to meet there (not the band, but the 17th-century radical left-wing political movement). The Levellers wore sprigs of rosemary in their hats to identify themselves, such was their love for the Rosemary Branch.
But when the original tavern burnt down a new tavern was built in 1783 – the Islington Vauxhall. This was not a type of car, but one of the favourite haunts of the Shoreditch hipsters of the day. And there were two windmills nearby to power the white lead works on what is now the site of today’s Rosemary Gardens.
The whole area was called Islington Fields and there were beautiful pleasure gardens with ponds and winter ice rinks and bowling greens and skittle gardens (not full of colourful sweets though, so no-one got to “taste the rainbow”) and grand balls in the Tavern. It sounds like it was an amazing place. And probably very dog-friendly, even back then.
Unfortunately the owner went bankrupt after a horrible fire. The damage was so terrible that they closed the gardens. But in the 1880s things improved and they built a new pub, the wonderful Rosemary Branch. They have won awards for their dog-friendliness (which pleases Human) and serve real ale (which will please Uncle Human). And they have a small theatre and Victorian music hall. And I’m told they have lots of wonderful events there. Rumour has it that even Charlie Chaplin performed there! I have not yet attended any performances but as soon as I do I will let you know.
I really like Rosemary Gardens, so beautiful they gave them their own pub.