Rosherville Zoological Garden / Kent Zoological and Botanical Gardens Institution (1837-1900) & (1903-1911) Gravesend , Kent

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35 years ago Clinton (Clint ) Keeling wrote in his book Where the Lion Trod about this old Establishment ……. To recap for those that were not aware of it in the grounds of Crete Hall (in an area known as Rosherville , Northfleet or Gravesend) was a disused chalk quarry approximately 17 to 20 acres …. Jeremiah Rosher (1792-1847) was the owner of Crete Hall and he let out the disused quarry to a London Businessman George Jones (1795-1872) on a 99 year lease in 1837 … Mr Jones formed the Kent Zoological and Botanical Gardens Institution and sold shares in the company … The gardens were laid out with a terrace, a bear pit, Monkey House ,an archery ground, a lake, a maze, flower beds, statues, a lookout tower on a spur of rock and winding paths … from other books I have found that at the menagerie, the monkeys bound, chatter, and take apples out of your hand .. He also took on 2 partners (although not directors by the names of Mr Walstab and Mr Imrie … by 1842 / 3 as discussed by Clinton Keeling in his chapter about Rosherville the 2 tried to push out Mr Jones… a legal battle took place and Mr Jones as the Sole director of the company removed the partners ..
However as numbers dwindled due to the Establishment being only for the Well off the Gardens had to be opened to the general public and business boomed for a long while additional attractions were added such as Tightrope Walkers , Fortune Tellers , Cafes and there were fireworks
…Very little has been known about the animals that were at the Establishment at least 2 Bears (one named Rosie who died in 1887) ,Wolf , Birds and Monkeys … The gardens were open daily in the Summer and Autumn and it cost 6d to enter … As Rosherville was right on the River Thames many of the visitors came to visit by Steamer Boat which stopped at Rosherville Pier which had been built specifically for the Gardens …
Mr Jones passed away on June 26th 1872 aged 77 … and sadly his wife passed away the very next day …. They were listed as living at Lansdowne House , Rosherville … Mr Jones annotated in his will that a trust should be set up to run the gardens at least until the Lease ran out in 1936 .. ( it has been reported that the establishment was sold for £24,000 when he died) … Rosherville Gardens Company Limited took over the Management in 1872
With the advent of Railways and better road connections to Seaside locations the Park was getting less popular and a massive tragedy was to hit the Park when the Paddle Steamer Princess Alice sank in 1878 …. 640 people (all were on board the Princess Alice) perished in the accident (240 Children were amongst those that died) … The Paddle Steamer had collected Visitors from the Gardens at Rosherville Pier just prior to the accident (other reports say it was on its way to Rosherville) … This accident whilst not related directly to the Gardens did not help future visitor number or confidence in visiting ..
It is reported that the Gardens closed down in 1900 / 01 when the Company went Bankrupt and then were reopened under new management in 1903 to 1911 a new Menagerie of animals was purchased amongst then an Elephant named Kim ..
Crete Hall itself was demolished in 1936 and the land became used industrially (Crete Hall Road still exists today)
In 2012 the Bear Pit was rediscovered in the old quarry during excavation work and is now a listed building..
So that is the brief story of Rosherville Gardens … I would be interested to hear more about the type of animals kept here
Images shown :- Rosie the Bear , Entrance Tower at entrance to gardens and then finally Crete Hall itself
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