Famous visitors | The Fashion Museum
Image: 'The Concert Room', 1805 print by John Claude Nattes Image: 'The Concert Room', 1805 print by John Claude Nattes Show image info

'The Concert Room', 1805 print by John Claude Nattes

Famous visitors

​The Assembly Rooms greeted many famous visitors in the 18th and 19th centuries. Both Jane Austen and Charles Dickens mention the Assembly Rooms in their novels.

Jane Austen

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 1818Both 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, 1818

Charles Dickens

Born Portsmouth 1812. Died Rochester 1870.

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