Edinburgh World Heritage

Assembly Rooms - Making an Entrance

Party goers arriving at a ball in 1783, had more or less the same concerns as people on a night out in George Street today

: keeping the rain off your outfit, keeping hair styles intact and dealing with awkward fancy footwear.

When the Assembly Rooms opened, guests arrived not by black cab but by sedan chair. Rather like the modern taxi, the sedan chair took you from door to door.  It was ideal for short hops across the city. In the 18th century, they were a common sight about Edinburgh, as passengers were whisked between the Old Town and the elegant New Town.

Until 1838, the entrances to the Assembly Rooms were on either side of the restaurant where you are now sitting. Side lanes to the east and the west were used by people disembarking - from carriages on one side, and sedan chairs on the other.  Covered porticos ensured that fashionable attire wasn’t splattered with mud. On the way home the sedan chair could be taken right inside your porch to avoid any distressing encounter with the elements. After a ball, it was customary for a gentleman to escort his partner home by walking alongside the chair.

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