The Assembly Rooms are lit by a set of nine chandeliers, made
for the building in 1771. Today they are considered to be one of
the finest sets to have survived from the 18th century.
The Bath Season ran from October to June. As the Season spanned
the winter months and many activities took place in the evening it
was essential to provide good artificial lighting.
Jonathan Collett of London originally provided a set of five
chandeliers for the Ball Room when it opened in September 1771.
Shortly afterwards the arm of one of the chandeliers fell off -
narrowly missing the artist, Thomas Gainsborough, who lived nearby
at the time. The Ball Room chandeliers were taken down and a new
set was ordered from William Parker of London. Parker had already
supplied three chandeliers for the Tea Room.
It was agreed that Jonathan Collett should salvage the rejected
set of Ball Room chandeliers and make one large chandelier to hang
in the Octagon Room.
The chandeliers in the three rooms are each an average height of
eight feet and they are made of Whitefriars crystal from the
Whitefriars Glassworks in London.
The chandeliers were originally lit by candles: the Ball Room
and Tea Room chandeliers with 40 lights each and the Octagon
chandelier with 48 lights. Some time in the 19th century they were
fitted for gas and were later converted to electric light.
At the start of the Second World War the chandeliers were put
into safe store and escaped destruction when the Assembly Rooms
were bombed in 1942. During the extensive refurbishment of the
building in 1988-1991 the chandeliers were restored by R. Wilkinson
& Sons of London.