Tea Garden Timeline in Britain and Japan


Two new types of gardens arose in Japan, influenced heavily by the tea ceremony:  the tea garden and the stroll garden (Keane 169). The tea garden, or Chaniwa, was created out of a desire to move the tea ceremony away from formal halls and into a more natural setting.  The style tended to be open—despite the fact that the gardens were often “compressed” into a preexisting space.  The idea was to recreate the spirit of nature while maintaining a certain level of elegance and refinement as accepted by the upper classes.  These gardens are essentially a path leading to a private tea house (Keane 75; ).

Tea Garden 1
A small tea garden (“Japanese Gardens: the Chaniwa”)

The stroll garden was essentially a much larger tea garden created to cater both to those who owned large swaths of land and those who wanted to visit such places.  Each stroll garden generally contained at least one tea house, in addition to various religious shrines popular with pilgrims.  The biggest feature of the stroll garden was its size.  The vastness typically utilized was a sign to any who visited that the lands were at peace (it is unlikely someone would build a huge garden in a place that they expected to “host” a battle (Keane 99-100)


A stroll garden was designed for the Chishakuin Temple by Sen-no-Rikyu, one of the great Japanese tea masters (Japanese National Tourist Organization).

Tea Garden 2
Chishakuin Temple garden (“Chishaku-in Temple”)


A stroll garden was added to the grounds of the Kyoto imperial palace, the Katsura Imperial Villa, and the Shugakuin Imperial Villa.  The one at Katsura in particular is both typical of the stroll garden style and still considered to be one of the best examples of Japanese gardening (Japanese National Tourist Organization).

Tea Garden 3
Katsura Imperial Villa (“Katsura Imperial Palace Garden”)


Vauxhall Gardens opened in London.  It was initially little more than an alehouse with a large garden attached.  Refreshments were limited and came primarily from the alehouse, although many people supplemented the offerings with food brought from home.  It became a respectable (despite its popularity amongst prostitutes) meeting place with more elaborate places to eat, more complex gardens, and planned entertainments (Coke).

Tea Garden 4 - Copy
Vauxhall Gardens (“londonist”)


Under new ownership, Vauxhall gardens instituted paid admissions and supplemented the formal gardens with artwork and future entertainments.  An effort was made to cater to an increasingly elite clientele with various special events, including live music performed by Handel (Coke).

Tea Garden 5
Vauxhall Gardens map c. 1741 (Coke)


Many of London’s pleasure gardens, including Vauxhall, began serving tea.  There would eventually be more than 200 gardens in the London area.  Tea was served at the end of an evening of dancing and fireworks for the elite or during the late afternoon for the middle class (depending on the garden in question).  This idea would later be combined with Japanese cultural elements and expanded into true strolling gardens (Ross).


Ranelagh Gardens open in London.  Tea service was a part of the gardens amenities from the start.  They were direct competition for Vauxhall, particularly amongst the elite of London.  Their form was more formal and structured than that of Vauxhall (“Ranelagh”).

Tea Garden 7
Ranelagh Gardens Rotunda (“Georgian London Addresses and Locations”)


Bayswater Tea Garden opened in London.  It had previously been a private garden, and it was subsequently re-worked to accommodate the public.  Its primary clientele was the middle class.  Contemporary accounts detail arbors, archways, and a bowling green.  It was subsequently renamed Flora Tea Gardens, Bayswater and later Victoria Tea Gardens.

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The Bayswater Tea Gardens (Wroth 117-119)


Belvidere Tea Gardens open in London.  Like many of the smaller tea gardens in London at the time, it consisted of a tavern, a bowling green, and an outside area for tea service (Wroth 145-146)


Bayswater Tea Gardens closed in London.


Vauxhall Gardens closed in London. (Coke).


In large part due to the introduction of Western influences, many of Japan’s stroll gardens were transformed into public parks.  Most of the tea gardens were still kept in private hands and not open to the public (this continues on to present day) (Keane 169; Japanese National Tourist Organization)


Belvidere Tea Gardens closed in London



Works Cited

“Chishaku-in Temple.”  The Tale of Genji.  Web.

Coke, David.  Vauxhall Gardens.  Web. 

Dwight, Courtney, Andrea Korthase, and Amoreena Gonzales-Ralya.  “18th Century Pleasure

Gardens.”   Leisure Activities of an 18th Century Lady.  1999.  Web. 

“Georgian London Addresses and Locations.”  The Georgian Index.  Web. 

“Katsura Imperial Palace Garden.”  Gardenvisit.com:  The Garden and Landscape Guide

“londonist.”  Gothomist LLC.   Web. 

“Japanese Gardens:  the Chaniwa.”  Asia Welcome.  Web. 

Japanese National Tourist Organization.  Japanese Gardens.  January 2001.  Web. 

Keane, Marc P.  Japanese Garden Design.  Boston:  Tuttle Publishing, 1996.  Print.

“Ranelagh.”  London Online.  Web. 

Ross, David.  “History of Tea in Britain.”  Britain Express.  Web. 

Wroth, Warwick and Arthur Wroth.  The London Pleasure Gardens of the Eighteenth Century. 

New York:  Macmillan, 1896.

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