Regency Balls at Bath
Posted by Bob Whitworth on August 08, 1998 at 00:42:39:
I thought you all might enjoy this description of the activities at the Kingston Assembly Rooms, situated but a few yards from the North Parade. This is taken from Pierce Egan’s Walks Through Bath....published in 1819.
The original elegant suite of public rooms, which form one of the most lively and interesting features of Bath, so conspicuously towards supporting the prosperity of the old city, were formerly part of the estate of the late Duke of Kingston, but now belonging to Earl Manvers. Since their first erection they have undergone a variety of alterations and improvements, and in 1750 they were almost rebuilt. The assembly-room is 90 feet long, 26 broad, and 34 high. The card-room adjoining to it is 60 feet in length, and 30 in breadth. It has a reading-room, well furnished with maps, books, reviews, newspapers, &c. An apartment is also devoted to the games of chess and backgammon; and another for billiards. The rooms are totally distinct from each other. The terms are £ 1:6s. for the year, always ending on the 30th of September; and for six months, £ 1. It is now two separate establishments, one of which is elegantly fitted up for the accommodation of the Bath and West of England Club. The latter invite the company to the amusement of a fancy or undress ball on Tuesday, and a dress ball on Friday nights, during the winter season. There is some little variation in these rooms from the upper. Those balls held on Tuesday nights are continued to the hour of twelve; and, the day promenade is heightened by a most delightful view of the country contiguous to Bath. Till the year 1771, the KINGSTON ROOMS continued to be the only place of public resort; but, upon the opening of the Upper or New Rooms, the influence and attraction of the latter, though gradually operating as a great drawback to its company, in fact so seriously, that in 1810, it was deemed necessary to lay out a large sum of money in splendid decorations, in order to revive and create attention.
A grand portico was also added to its entrance, the architecture of which is particularly admired: and Earl Manvers has also made carriage-roads to this new entrance, over part of the North and South Parade, and also from Stall-Street, at a considerable sacrifice of his land and houses, in order that “this old spot” might not suffer neglect, and over which the English Roscius observed, with much animation, “the genius of Bath would always hover and preside.”
The visitor is much delighted in viewing these elegant rooms, at which the balls and amusements are regulated by the following rules, adopted at a general meeting of the subscribers, who also possess the exclusive right of voting at an election of the Master of the Ceremonies.
KINGSTON ASSEMBLY ROOMS,
November 19th, 1816
In order to preserve decorum, and maintain respectability at the balls, at these rooms, resolved,
That every ticket transferred to a lady shall bear the name both of the lady and the subscriber transferring the same, otherwise it can on no account be received.
That non-subscribers may be admitted to the balls on being introduced by a subscriber, or by leaving their names at the rooms for the master of ceremonies.
The renter having agreed to furnish the music viz. 1 harp, 4 violins, 1 violincello, 2 clarinets, and 1 tambourine, for thirty balls, including the master of the cereminoes’ winter and spring balls, resolved,
That these rooms shall be opened for the reception of the company at eight o’clock in the evening, a quarter of an hour before which time they shall be regularly and properly lighted up; and, the master of ceremonies shall attend to receive the company, and an overture be played by the band at half-past eight o’clock; after which the dancing shall commence, and cease at twelve o’clock precisely, although in the middle of a dance.
That the upper benches shall be reserved for ladies of the rank of peeresses.
That ladies, according to their precedence, shall be entitled at all times to their appropriate places at the top in the set; but other ladies standing up after the dance is commenced, shall take their places at the bottom of the set; and every lady who shall have danced down the set, is expected not to sit down till that dance shall be finished.
That ladies may change partners every two dance
That it be left at the option of the ladies to dance with whom they please; and their declining any particular partner shall not prevent their dancing with another.
That no gentleman be admitted in boots, half-boots, coloured pantaloons, or twowsers, unless an officer in uniform and on duty, and then without their swords.
That every person pay sixpence for their tea on ball-nights.
Ladies proposing to dance minuets, shall announce their intentions to the master of the ceremonies on the day preceding the ball, and shall be in the rooms appropriately dressed punctually at half-past eight o’clock.
That no person shall be allowed to insert their names as subscribers, or be admitted as visitors to these balls, who carry on any occupation in the retail line of business, the master of the ceremonies’ ball-nights excepted.
The master of the ceremonies shall use his utmost endeavours to enforce the several foregoing resolutions, and be well supported by the subscribers in the performance of his duty.
TERMS.---A subscription of 14s. will entitle the subscriber to admission on each ball-night.--A subscription of 26s. will entitle the subscriber to admission on each ball-night, and also to two tickets transferrable by endorsement to ladies only.
The present master of ceremonies is Captain MARSHALL, who was elected to this situation in November, 1817.
- Of minuets and men ElaineL 21:00:24 8/09/98 (1)
- Minuet Alfredo :) Leanne S 11:56:36 8/10/98 (0)
- This is great. Thanks for sharing! (NFM) ElaineL 16:02:23 8/09/98 (0)
- How fascinating. Thank you, Bob! NFM SuzanneR 14:31:58 8/08/98 (0)
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