Bath Assembly Rooms
|Bath Assembly Rooms|
|Town or city||Bath|
|Construction started||24 May 1769|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||John Wood the Younger|
The Bath Assembly Rooms, designed by John Wood the Younger in 1769, are a set of elegant assembly rooms located in the heart of the World Heritage City of Bath in England which are now open to the public as a visitor attraction. It has been designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building.
The Assembly Rooms formed the hub of fashionable Georgian society in the city. Citizens would gather in the rooms in the evening for balls and other public functions, or simply to play cards. Mothers and chaperones bringing their daughters to Bath for the social season, hoping to marry them off to a suitable husband, would take their charge to such events where, very quickly, one might meet all the eligible men currently in the City.
Scenes such as this feature in the novels of Jane Austen, who lived in Bath with her parents and sister from 1801 to 1805. Her two novels set in Bath, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were published in 1818 and both mention the Assembly Rooms:
- Mrs Allen was so long in dressing, that they did not enter the ball-room till late. The season was full, the room crowded, and the two ladies squeezed in as well as they could. As for Mr Allen, he repaired directly to the card-room, and left them to enjoy a mob by themselves. (Northanger Abbey)
- Sir Walter, his two daughters, and Mrs Clay, were the earliest of all their party at the rooms in the evening; and as Lady Dalrymple must be waited for, they took their station by one of the fires in the Octagon Room. (Persuasion)
- In the ball-room, the long card-room, the octagonal card-room, the staircases, and the passages, the hum of many voices, and the sound of many feet, were perfectly bewildering. Dresses rustled, feathers waved, lights shone, and jewels sparkled. There was the music — not of the quadrille band, for it had not yet commenced; but the music of soft tiny footsteps, with now and then a clear merry laugh — low and gentle, but very pleasant to hear in a female voice, whether in Bath or elsewhere.
During the Bath Blitz of 25/26 April 1942, one of the retaliatory raids on England by the Baedeker Blitz following the RAF's raid on Lübeck, The Assembly Rooms were bombed and burnt out inside. After the cessation of hostilities in Europe, they were restored shortly afterwards.
The Assembly Rooms today
Today the rooms are owned by the National Trust and operated by Bath and North East Somerset Council. Part of the building provides a home to the Fashion Museum, Bath, but the main rooms are still available for hire for private functions. Their grandeur makes them a popular location for feature films and television series set in the Georgian period.
- "Assembly Rooms". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-11-05.