Edinburgh World Heritage

Assembly Rooms - Fit for a King

In July 1822 it was excitedly reported that King George IV was to visit the Scottish capital that summer.

Promptly, the Peers of Scotland to invited the King to a ball at the grandest venue in the city: the Assembly Rooms.

In preperation for this special event the building managers set about a project of decoration. The new supper room was described as ‘by far the greatest novelty in the whole arrangement.’This tempoary structure, located at the back of the building, was a polygonal tent fitted in a light and airy style being covered on the inside with stripes of pink and white fabric, embellished with rosettes of the same colour.

You can see these decorations in J.M.Turner’s sketch of the Ball when the party was in full swing. Perhaps the most novel part of the decorations, though,was the false curtains alongthe back wall which were ‘opened’ to reveal painted scences of the Scottish landscape.

On the 23rd of August the King arrived at the ball, greated by Edinburgh’s elite who wore a mixture of formal wear and Highland dress – a shield and flashes of tartan can be seen in Turner’s sketch.  At the ball the King coversed with the guests and watched the dancing and was said to be very pleased with the whole proceedings. It was reported: ‘Upon the whole, the ball was quite in unison with the other honours which Scotland has prepared for her King. It was rich, it was beautiful, it was orderly.’

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