You may recall that a few months ago I went to see the Dress for Excess Exhibit at the magical Brighton Royal Pavilion. This is the Chinoiserie filled and Orientally inspired seaside home of the Prince of Wales in Brighton and was the centre of the fashionable Regency world. Before we go inside to see the interiors and the clothes on display, I think it might be helpful to have a post on the Pavillion itself and its history. Today we shall look at the exteriors and the development of this most extraordinary building.

When Jane Austen published Pride and Prejudice in 1813, and had the wayward Lydia Bennet going quite wild in Brighton with all its attendant temptations, the Prince of Wales’ home there was at first a completely different, comparatively simple building than the one we know now. (Do remember all the images in this post can be enlarged, simply by clicking on them,and you can see all the delicious detail if you do…)

The building, at first, was merely a “very superior farmhouse” and consisted only of the building to the left of the illustration. In 1787 Henry Holland was commissioned to add the rotunda in the centre, which contained the Saloon, and then another extension, seen on the right,  to echo the original farmhouse. At this point it was known as the Marine Villa. The ground plan, above, shows what happened to it when it was enlarged in 1801-1802.

The exact point at which the Prince began to Orientalise the building is still a matter of debate, but it was probably after 1815. In any event John Nash, shown here, below,  painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence,

(©The Principal,Fellows and Scholars of Jesus College,Oxford)

gradually aggrandized the building and in 1821,  this, below, is how it appeared. You can see the ground plan of the pavilion, the dome shaped stable and riding school and the grounds, all  built along the Steyne in the centre of Brighton.

And here is a map of Brighton from 1823, showing the position of the pavilion:

built at right angles to the sea …

Here is the entrance front of the Pavilion as it appeared in the early 1820s

and this is the Steyne front, again in the early 1820s:

And now, having set the scene, for my photographs, taken on the darkest day in the spring!, but still….let’s look at them…

The magnificent entrance front…..

The pavilion is now painted a cream/stone colour,  but in my childhood in the 1960s it was painted a rather bright shade of aqua blue with the details picked out in white like a wedding cake…..

The onion domes are a feature of the building

and have been used on the later additions,such as this one on the gate leading  to the Steyne…

The outside of this fantastical palace gathers its inspiration from India: this is part of the entrance front, and you can clearly see the influence in the shape of the windows and their tracery….

The Stables and Riding school, can be seen from the entrance front….

and are set within the gardens that were designed by Humphrey Repton. The view back towards the Pavilion shows the jumble of domes and minarets…

Passing onto the Steyne front 

we see the magnificent, symmetrical facade with its jali screens,

dominated by the central onion dome over the saloon

This front is simply a tour de force…

and here is a short video showing you the whole of the facade

I do apologise for the traffic noise, but it was a very busy day in Brighton.

Next, the interiors and the costumes.