The Bath Assembly Rooms were known as the city’s most stylish entertainment venue in the 18th and 19th centuries. View these elegant public rooms and explore the unique Fashion Museum set on the lower ground floor.
Opened in 1771, the Assembly Rooms were the place where Bath socialites met to play cards, waltz or enjoy classical concerts. In their heyday, the rooms were frequented by celebrated artists and authors, such as Charles Dickens and Jane Austen. The card room, ballroom and tearoom have been restored and are open to the public. Be sure to admire the rooms’ gorgeous cut-glass chandeliers, which are 18th-century originals.
Don’t miss the Fashion Museum, which is found on the building’s lower level. Opened in 1963, this museum began as an exhibition of scholar Doris Langley Moore’s private collection. Today it exhibits clothing from Jacobean times up to the latest Milanese designs. The exhibitions are ever changing, with only a portion of the museum’s 80,000 objects on display at any one time.
Admire the hats, accessories, jewelry and clothing that have been popular with men and women over the centuries. Look for Victorian nightdresses and gaudy Georgian court dresses with their extra-wide skirts. Watch for the “Dress of the Year” display, which has highlighted some of the most innovative creations of the fashion industry since the museum opened. Every year, a different fashion expert is asked to choose the year’s most exciting or characteristic outfit for display in the museum.
Try on replica Victorian clothing in the museum’s dressing up area. You’ll find children’s and adult’s coats, hats, dresses and bonnets, along with a Victorian street scene backdrop where you can pose for photos.
The Bath Assembly Rooms are included in the admission price for the Fashion Museum. They are rented out for occasional functions, so check they are open before you go to avoid disappointment. For additional information, take a guided tour or rent an audio guide. You’ll find the Assembly Rooms just under a mile’s (1.5 kilometers) walk from Bath Spa train station.