In Eighteenth century England , any town of any note had assembly rooms, for dinners and balls, but also music recitals, public meetings and lectures. Bath had two in competition with each other by mid century, but the fashions changed, people had parties with friends and they fell into decline. The surviving, upper rooms are now used for public events, with the museum of costume in the basement.
A beautiful, light airy space
This is a portrait of Christopher Anstey, author of the wonderfully satirical New Bath Guide describing characters such as Captain Cormorant. It was one of the first best sellers and made him a fortune and a celebrity. The painting is by John Simmons, probably the Bristol artist who did a lot of work on their Theatre Royal.
This is the portrait of John Palmer, Proprietor of the Bath and Bristol Theatres Royal, improver of coaches which led to the invention of the Royal Mail, and also a major property developer. Looks rather childlike for such a successful and powerful man
Rather a miserable looking, unshaved version of a truly great man – the ingenious John Padmore who built the railway that brought Ralph Allen’s Bath stone to the river Avon, so was incredibly important in building the city and its fortunes. He also built the Great Crane in Bristol and was often consulted when old buildings were falling down, probably a lot more, but such men were rarely remembered.