54 George Street Edinburgh EH2 2LR

Tel: 0131 220 4348

Email: enquiries@assemblyroomsedinburgh.co.uk

History of the Building

For almost 230 years, the Assembly Rooms has played host to hundreds of thousands of events.

From royal banquets to talent contests, conferences to ceilidhs, the building also welcomed authors Dickens, Thackeray and Scott for public readings. Colin Ross introduces the fascinating history of the Assembly Rooms in a fascinating podcast.

1796

After a fundraising campaign, ceiling roses, Corinthian pilasters, drapes, mirrors and crystal chandeliers were installed in the ballroom by John Baxter.

1818

The grand portico entrance to the Assembly Rooms on George Street was added 22 years after the Assembly Rooms were first built, to create a greater sense of splendour as guests arrived.

1822

In August 1822 the Assembly Rooms hosted a glittering Royal event - ‘The Peers Ball’, during the visit of King George IV to Edinburgh. An eyewitness, Thomas Mudie, later wrote a book about the event, offering a snapshot of the events of that night.  There was a huge traffic jam caused by guests arriving by carriage and a large crowd had gathered outside the Assembly Rooms to watch. This all created chaotic scenes outside: “…the sudden rush of carriages, the roaring of coachmen and the impatient objurations of the Highland [sedan] chairmen, enforced by the furious driving of their poles, threatened more than once to shake the democracy from its propriety!”

Naturally all of the guests were wearing their most magnificent outfits…“The ladies were in most elegant white dresses, richly bespangled and had on plumes of white ostrich feathers, their plumage in constant undulation, appearing to the eye like an ocean of foam”. The men meanwhile had either opted for formal court dress, or had taken the opportunity to wear tartan, which was newly fashionable during the King’s visit. Other noblemen and gentlemen gaily disported themselves in the mountain garb.”