The Assembly Rooms received a number of famous visitors in the
18th and 19th centuries. Both Jane Austen and Charles Dickens
mention the Assembly Rooms in their novels, while the diarist
Francis Kilvert described a reception here in 1873. Concerts were
popular and many well-known musicians visited the Assembly Rooms.
The most distinguished included Joseph Haydn, Johann Strauss the
Elder and Franz Liszt.
Born at Steventon, Hampshire
1775. Died Winchester, Hampshire 1817.
She visited relatives in Bath as a young girl; later (when
her father retired as a clergyman) she came to live in Bath with
her parents and sister from 1801 to 1805. They lived at several
addresses in Bath such as Green Park and Gay
Street, but for the most part at 4 Sydney Place (now opposite
the Holburne Museum). Only two of Jane Austen's novels are set in
Bath: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both
published in 1818. Both mention the Assembly Rooms, which
Jane Austen herself visited.
'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,
Born Portsmouth 1812. Died
He visited Bath on several occasions and mentions the Assembly
Rooms in the Pickwick Papers (published
1837). He also gave public readings from his works in
the Assembly Rooms.
'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.'
The Pickwick Papers, 1837
'Ball at the Upper Rooms' 1825 print by Robert
Dress design from a Georgian fashion plate