Pimlico is a name of gardens of public entertainment, often mentioned by our early dramatists, and in this respect resembles "Spring Garden." In a rare tract, Newes from Hogsdon, 1598, is: "Have at thee, then, my merrie boys, and hey for old Ben Pimlico's nut-browne!" and the place, in or near Hoxton, was afterwards named from him. Ben Jonson has:
"A second Hogsden,
In days of Pimlico and eye-bright."—The Alchemist.
"Pimlico-path" is a gay resort of his Bartholomew Fair; and Meercraft, in The Devil is an Ass, says:
"I'll have thee, Captain Gilthead, and march up
And take in Pimlico, and kill the bush
At every tavern."
In 1609, was printed a tract entitled Pimlyco, or Prince Red Cap, 'tis a Mad World at Hogsden. Sir Lionel Hash, in Green's Tu Quoque, sends his daughter "as far as Pimlico for a draught of Derby ale, that it may bring colour into her cheeks." Massinger mentions,
"Eating pudding-pies on a Sunday,
At Pimlico or Islington."—City Madam.
Aubrey, in his Surrey, speaks of "a Pimlico Garden on Bankside."
Pimlico, the district between Knightsbridge and the Thames, and St. James's Park and Chelsea, was noted for its public gardens: as the Mulberry Garden, now part of the site of Buckingham Palace; the Dwarf Tavern and Gardens, afterwards Spring Gardens, between Ebury-street and Belgrave-terrace; the Star and Garter, at the end of Five-Fields-row, famous for its equestrianism, fireworks, and dancing; and the Orange, upon the site of St. Barnabas' church. Here, too, were Ranelagh and New Ranelagh. But the largest garden in Pimlico was Jenny's Whim, already described. In later years it was frequented by crowds from bull-baiting in the adjoining fields. Among the existing old signs are, the Bag o' Nails, Arabella-row, from Ben Jonson's "Bacchanals;" the Compasses, of Cromwell's time (near Grosvenor-row); and the Gun Tavern and Tea-gardens, Queen's-row, with its harbours and costumed figures taken down for the Buckingham Gate improvements. Pimlico is still noted for its ale-breweries.
Club Life of London Vol. II