ALMACK’S OR WILLIS’S?

What’s in a name?

Wikipedia says:
‘Almack’s Assembly Rooms was a social club in London from 1765 to 1871 and one of the first to admit both men and women. It was one of a limited number of upper class mixed-sex public social venues in the British capital in an era when the most important venues for the hectic social season were the grand houses of the aristocracy. From 1871 it was renamed “Willis’s Rooms” ‘

It appears though that it was often referred to as Willis’s Rooms long before that.

An advertisement in The Times on 9 May 1799 said:
ALMACK’S ASSEMBLY ROOMS, King-street, St. James’s Sq.
JAMES AND WILLIAM WILLIS most respectfully beg leave to acquaint the NOBILITY and GENTRY there will be a BALL, at their Rooms, THIS DAY, the 9th Inst., under the Patronage of
Her Grace the Duchess of GORDON,
Marchioness of SALISBURY, and
Marchioness TOWNSEND.

It was so advertised on 2 May 1800 but the next advertisement on 8 May calls it WILLIS’S ROOMS (late Almac’s).  However, on 6 Mar 1801 it was again called Almack’s Assembly Rooms, though still under the control of the Willis brothers (also lessors of the Thatched House Tavern in St. James’s Street) who had taken over management on William Almack’s death in 1781.  Almack had left it to his niece, Elizabethe Tebb, who was the wife of James Willis.

Perhaps the Willises tried to change the name but there was an outcry and they relented.

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One Response to ALMACK’S OR WILLIS’S?

  1. nicholasstorey says:

    A plaque marks the site.

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