Thomas Greenall founded Greenalls in 1762 – at a time when London’s Marylebone Pleasure Gardens were in full swing. Then, in the 1830s, a Liverpudlian solicitor named John fell in love with Isabella, the daughter of Thomas. They married, and John began working for Greenalls. Turned out distilling was in his blood, as it has proved to be for his son, his grandson…all the way down through eight generations to Johnny Neill, who carries the family torch forward today.
- Johnny Neill
Rooted in the Pleasure Gardens
On any given night in Georgian London - the London of Pepys, of Jane Austen, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Dr. Johnson - a fête was afoot. To find it, all you needed do was make your way to the nearest pleasure garden.
One of the most famous of all was close by the Rose of Normandy Tavern on the east side of what is now Marylebone High Street. Called the Marylebone Pleasure Gardens, it was the place to see and be seen throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. Rumour has it that Dick Turpin – highwayman, horse thief and folk hero – was no stranger to the gardens.
Here, classical music concerts and ballets were staged just steps away from boxing matches and cock fights. Just a silver sixpence would buy you access to fireworks shows, dances, burlesques and beautiful gardens. Georgian refinement mingled with notoriety, gambling and card sharping. Society’s upper echelons intersected with the lower orders in a way unthinkable in any other walk of life at the time. In this magical place, princes could - and did - happily rub shoulders with paupers.
It’s easy to see how this exotic blend of people and pleasure became the inspiration for the creation of Mary-Le-Bone Gin.