Jane Rendell

Almack’s Assembly Rooms

Abstract: This paper looks at exchange rituals in spaces of courtship, such as assembly rooms, which provided places of public gathering outside the family home for making marriage arrangements. As a specific example, I take Almack’s Assembly Rooms, King Street, St. James’s, a place of aristocratic entertainment and leisure during the early nineteenth century, represented in rambling texts as a marriage market and a site of sexual pursuit. At Almack’s, activities of exchange, consumption and display were articulated in relation to courtship and marriage, and represented in terms of exclusivity, intimacy, display and masquerade.

This paper was published as ‘Almack’s Assembly Rooms’, Journal of Architectural Education, (2002).

Images: Pierce Egan, Life in London (1820-1). The Guildhall Library.