With its unique setting and superb facilities, Assembly Buildings is one of the finest conference and exhibition venues in the city of Belfast. Following an £8million refurbishment in 2010, the facility offers state-of-the-art technology in a historically rich environment. Princess Diana attended the re-opening of the buildings on 29 June 1992, after its first refurbishment due to a bomb blast. The stained glass windows, seen below, were removed for safe keeping at the height of the terrorist bombing of Belfast and were only replaced at the time of the re-opening. On the right at the front of the Assembly Hall is a plaque unveiled by Diana, Princess of Wales on the occasion of her visit to Church House on June 29, 1992. With its high-tech facilities and a ten room conference suite capable of accommodating up to 1150, the Assembly Buildings is now regarded as one of Belfast’s premier conference, concert and exhibition venues. Built in 1905 as the headquarters of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the Assembly Buildings Conference Centre is one of the most impressive buildings in Belfast’s city centre. Designed in the architectural style of a Scottish baronial castle, the gothic structure boasts a 40m high clock tower, a bell tower housing Belfast’s only operational peal of 12 bells, and several exquisite stain glass windows. For almost 80 years the Assembly Buildings, or Church House, as it was then exclusively known, operated entirely as the headquarters and General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. In 1992, however, after its first significant refurbishment, the building took on a commercial use, providing both a retail facility, Spires Mall, on the ground floor and offering the majestic Main Hall as an outside conference venue. Over the years the Assembly Buildings has welcomed a host of distinguished visitors including Diana, Princess of Wales, President Mary McAleese, Prime Minister John Major and First Lady, Hilary Clinton. Princess Diana’s visit that day defied the IRA and she was rewarded with crowds of up to 20,000 people in Belfast during her stay in the city. It was said to be the largest crowd at a royal engagement in Ulster for years and they chanted, shouted and yelled ‘We Want Di!’
She also visited Hillsborough Castle, County Down, that same day and planted a tree in commemoration of her visit. She attended a garden party at the Castle given by the Right Hon. Patrick Mayhew and mingled with the guests in the garden. Hillsborough Castle is an official government residence in Northern Ireland. It is the residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the official residence in Northern Ireland of Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the British Royal Family when they visit the region, as well as a guest house for prominent international visitors.