150 years ago: The Bath Bachelors’ Ball

Mr Alfred Septimus Walne and a little ‘flirting’.

From the Western Daily Press (22 February 1867, Page 3):

The biennial ball given by the bachelors of Bath took place last night at the Assembly Rooms. The whole of the magnificent suite of apartments was in use, and splendid, chaste, and costly ornaments gleamed from every nook and corner of the place. The ball room itself was decorated in rather a simple style, but the elegant display in the octagon, the supper room, the card room, and the well-known little apartment which has obtained the appropriate title of the “flirting” room, contrasted all the more with the plainer decorations of the chief room. Flowers sprang up everywhere, and scented fountains perfumed the air. At almost every turn some new attraction caught the eye, and in a perfect fairy land of pretty things it was hard to tell what pleased the most. The invitations were issued for half-past nine, and about ten o’clock the guests began to arrive. Dancing immediately commenced, and continued with unabated vigour till after five o’clock this morning. At twelve the doors of the supper room were thrown open, and champagne, moselle, and every choice of wine one could think of were lavishly displayed. Messrs Fortt supplied the supper and the wines. The supper was elegant and profuse, the wines were good and plentiful, and both found many customers. As regards the fair ones, Bath well sustained its reputation. Many a face of surpassing beauty sent pangs into the bachelors’ hearts, and, after whirling round with some fairy form to the merry music of the “Belgravia Waltz,” many of the bachelors no doubt wished the little rest of the flirting room could be prolonged. Reynolds led in rare good style, and his band, 18 strong, ably supported his efforts. About 480 persons were present in the room, and, thanks to the judicious proportioning of the sexes, no wall-flowers were left to pine unnoticed by the side of their chaperones. The committee acted as stewards for the evening and exerted themselves well, and all went merry as a marriage bell. The stewards were – Col. C. Hind, Capt. S. H. Williams, Major G. A. Williams (the hon. secretary), Capt. W. Cairnes, Mr W. Goodenough, Mr A. Raby, Mr D. Macliver, Mr A. F. Janvrin, Mr J. Le Marchant, Mr R. T. Hare, Mr A. Worthington, and Mr A. S. Walne (the chairman). Not only in Bath, but in the West of England, this ball is considered the event of the season, and no similar entertainment this year has been conducted with such completeness and entire success. The committee have been untiring in their exertions, and the result has shown what they can do. In Bath balls are so much a part of social life, and so much better understood than in towns where they are merely occasional occurrences, that it is by no means an easy thing to produce one thoroughly distinct from all the others and better in every respect. The the Bachelors’ Ball of 1867 exceeded any of its predecessors was acknowledged by everyone, and it was also generally admitted that no other ball of the year could even be compared with it.

Further extensive reviews of the Ball can be found in other newspapers. In The Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette of the same week, the ‘flirting room’ is noted as being for ‘glove making without the ‘g”…!

This One Name Study covers all walks of life. While Albert was busy waltzing in Bath’s high society, many with the same surname were toiling in cotton mills.

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