WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Common Garden

The Boxes, Thomas Rowlandson, 1809

The Boxes, Thomas Rowlandson, 1809

Ah, Society.

During the Regency, there were only a few places that all strata assembled at the same time. Thomas Rowlandson captured one such place – the theatre – with startling clarity. To his jaundiced eye, there is more commonality than difference between the behaviors of the classes.

You can click on the image at left to enlarge it. Rowlandson captioned his work with a quote from Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3: Oh, woe is me, t’have seen what I have seen, see what I see!

When all the levels of Society get together, the only thing separating them is the level of their box in the theatre.

Common Garden (noun)

This district in London between Charing Cross, Drury Lane, and the West End. From land seized by Henry VIII after the dissolution of the monasteries. The area during the Regency was chiefly comprised of brothels, taverns, and coffee houses, and was skirted by theatres. Also Covent Garden or Convent Garden.


All definitions and/or examples taken from Online Etymological DictionaryCant: A Gentleman’s Guide, and/or 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.