Rowe’s Illustrated Cheltenham Guide of 1850 describes the Assembly Rooms thus:
… Our next business is to look in at the Assembly Rooms, whose portico crosses the pavement, and forms a conspicuous ornament in the street view. This establishment comprises a spacious and elegantly ornamented Ball Room, with refreshment, card, billiard, and club rooms, and the general business arrangements are made under the supervision of a body of seven gentlemen, entitled the ‘Committee of Public Amusements’. The building was erected in 1815-1816, and opened on the 29th July in the latter year, the total cost of erection being somewhere about £60,000. The large Ball Room is 87 feet by 40 feet, and 40 feet high. The upper suite of rooms is devoted to the meetings of the Cheltenham and Gloucestershire Club.”
The Assembly Rooms were opened by the Duke of Wellington in July 1816.
The licensing records of 1891 give detail that the Assembly Room Wine Vaults were owned by the Assembly Rooms Co. with Francis Holland Rea in occupation as landlord / proprietor. The annual rateable value was a substantial £56.0s.0d. The premise license was for an ale house which was free from brewery tie. Twelve years later in 1903 Francis Holland Rea was still in occupation of an unnamed premises and he was also listed as owner (Francis H. Rea & Co.) Still free from brewery tie, the establishment had inexplicably decreased in annual rateable value by almost £14 to £42.10s.0d. Of note is that it only had a six-day licence and closing time was at 10 pm, one hour earlier than the majority of Cheltenham public houses and hotels.
The Assembly Rooms were demolished at the beginning of the 20th century and Lloyds Bank was constructed on the site. It has been documented that the buildings were knocked down in 1900 – the grandiose Assembly Rooms only lasting 84 years. This begs the question what was the 1903 entry in the licensing returns relating to Francis Holland Rea referring to? Perhaps the decrease in rateable value can be attributed to the fact that the Assembly Rooms were being run down after closure of the public rooms, but perhaps the wine vaults remained trading. Or was the 1903 premise having no name an entirely separate business owned and established by Francis Holland Rea in the interim period?
Landlords / Proprietors at the Assembly Rooms include:
1850 Joseph Vaile
1891,1903 Francis Holland Rea