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A Ball in the Rooms, Bath

The Assembly Rooms were designed by John Wood the Younger and built in 1769 as a venue for public functions, including concerts and balls, which were held at least once a week during ‘the season’:

“The season was full, the room crowded, and the two ladies squeezed in as well as they could... With more care for the safety of her new gown than for the comfort of her protegee, Mrs. Allen made her way through the throng of men by the door... They saw nothing of the dancers but the high feathers of some of the ladies... by a continued exertion of strength and ingenuity, they found themselves at last in the passage behind the highest bench... It was a splendid sight; and she began, for the first time that evening, to feel herself at a ball...”

Jane Austen’s dizzying description from ‘Northanger Abbey’ is well matched with this lively scene from Thomas Rowlandson’s ‘Comforts of Bath’.

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