Story of Georgian Bath to be brought to life when National Trust takes over the Assembly Rooms

June 7, 2019

The National Trust is to take over the running of Bath’s iconic Assembly Rooms from Bath & North East Somerset Council after invoking a break clause in the building’s lease.

The 18th century building has been owned by the National Trust since 1931 and is currently leased to the council to house the Fashion Museum and act as a venue for events and meetings. 

The National Trust said it had invoked the break clause in the lease in order to directly manage the building from March 2023.

It said its ambition was to celebrate the building – which it described as a significant part of the World Heritage Site of Bath – “bringing its story to life and showcasing its central role in the society of Georgian Bath”.

It plans to use the building to show the history of the city’s Georgian period and reveal the stories of its social life when it takes over the day-to-day running of the building, which was designed by John Wood the Younger in 1769 and is Grade I listed.

The Trust plans to produce what it called an immersive experience for visitors that will transport them back to Georgian society, as well as exploring the role the rooms can play in the life of the 21st century city.

Working with creative partners, partner organisations and the local community, the National Trust will use the next four years to develop “an exciting and relevant future” for the building. The Trust will draw on research and historical records to ensure the full story of the Assembly Rooms is told and can be enjoyed by visitors. 

National Trust general manager for the Bath portfolio Tom Boden said: “We hope to work closely with our many friends and partners in the city to develop our plans for the Assembly Rooms.

“Bath benefits from a wide range of high-quality museums and visitor attractions, and we want to complement and support their existing offers.

“This is a hugely exciting opportunity to bring this important building to life. It will allow the National Trust to develop new experiences in the centre of Bath, telling the stories of the Georgian city in a building that was the heart of its social scene in the late 18th century, and making these relevant to today.”

When the Assembly Rooms were completed in 1771, they were described as “the most noble and elegant of any in the kingdom”.  

Each of its four rooms – the Great Octagon, Tea Room, Ball Room and Card Room – had a specific purpose. The building is a popular for weddings and in 2017 was voted the UK’s top city wedding venue.

Income generated by the National Trust from the Assembly Rooms will help support its conservation work at other nearby places, including the 500 acres of countryside that helps to provide the green setting for the city.

The National Trust was founded in 1895 and today looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 780 miles of coastline and hundreds of special places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It has 5.2m members and is supported by more than 61,000 volunteers. More than 26m people visit a National Trust property every year.



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