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One of York's most impressive buildings where it is easy to imagine the lords, dukes and earls, wandering round the columns and partying a night away

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Front Facade
Interior Rooms
Back in the early 18th century, York's upper classes engaged in much social activity and merriment! They were always attending dances or card games, usually held in the houses of various lords or ladies. However, they soon decided that they needed a better venue - somewhere a bit more impressive.
So they began searching for an architect who could design it for them. They eventually decided on a man called Richard Boyle, also known as the third earl of Burlington. At first, it may seem foolish of them to employ a member of the aristocracy - who aren't usually known for their skill in technical work. But Lord Burlington was a little unusual among earls. He was both a councillor, and a member of the House of Lords, though in fact he really couldn't care less about politics. His real interest was architecture, and in the early 1700s he was known as one of the best in the country.

The pillared front of the Assembly House
He agreed to design York's new Assembly Rooms, and by 1735, they were completed. The upper classes had asked for something impressive, and they had certainly got it. The new building contains a sophisticated Egyptian-style main hall, lined with eye-catching columns, while the similarly elegant surrounding rooms were inspired by old Roman themes. The Assembly Rooms quickly became well-known, and went on to influence the designs of many similar venues, all across the country. It is often cited as the earliest example of Neo-classical architecture in Europe.

Inside the Assembly House
Nearly 300 years later, the building is still one of York's most impressive sights. It has gone through several restoration projects, but it is still easy to imagine the lords, dukes and earls, dressed in all their finery, wandering round the columns and partying another night away. And if the image appeals to you, why not get a taste of that 18th century life, by visiting the restaurant currently occupying the building? Across the entire city, it's hard to imagine better surroundings for a meal.
Visitor Information
The Assembly Rooms are open daily 12noon to 11pm. Entrance is FREE. Tel: 01904 637254

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