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Saturday, 1 November 2014

Jane Austen and Bath IV: The Assembly Rooms

Assembly Rooms, Bath.

'Oh, who could ever be tired of Bath!’ gushed Northanger Abbey's Catherine Morland. There was plenty of entertainment for an impressionable young lady like Catherine in Austen's day. 
Balls were held twice weekly at the Upper and Lower Assembly Rooms in season; card games were played on the other nights of the week, except Sunday, when the rooms were opened for promenading.   
The Lower Rooms or Harrison’s Rooms dated back to 1708; they burnt down in about 1820. 
Harrison's Rooms plaque.
Chandeliers in the Assembly Rooms.
The Upper Rooms, also known as the New Assembly Rooms, were built in 1771 by John Wood. 
The Upper Rooms can still be seen today; they are home to the Fashion Museum.
Visitors to Bath also enjoyed going to the theatres, which were open in the evening after dinner, or they could listen to a concert in the Upper Rooms. In 1812 a ticket for all nine concerts at the Upper Rooms in the winter season cost 2 guineas.

Regency-era Gowns, Bath Fashion Museum.

In Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland was introduced to Henry Tilney by the master of ceremonies of the Lower Rooms. Henry was ‘a most gentleman-like young man’ with a ‘pleasing countenance, a very intelligent and lively eye, and, if not quite handsome, was very near it. His address [manner] was good, and Catherine felt herself in good luck’.  
Photos © Sue Wilkes.

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