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In our last post in this series,we travelled up the stairs in the Gallery. This week we discover where those wonderfully pink stairs and their faked bamboo stair rail led…to the Gallery on the Chamber floor. Below is John Nash’s view of the Gallery, painted circa 1816 (do remember you can enlarge all the photographs in these articles by clicking on them)
I love the way George IV is included in many of these watercolours, just to reinforce the impression that the place really was his…you can see him ascending the stairs with a lady upon his arm…the question of the moment being, of course, which lady? We can be certain it was certainly not his estranged wife, Caroline of Brunswick, whose part Jane Austen took. As she wrote in a letter to her friend, Martha Lloyd, which was dated 16th February, 1813:
Poor woman, I shall support her as long as I can, because she is a Woman and because I hate her Husband
The gallery is a central corridor, similar to the gallery on the ground floor. Doors lead from it to the different main bedrooms in the Pavilion,with the exception of the King’s Apartments, with which we will deal in our next post ;)
The gallery is lit by skylights, again painted in the oriental fashion by artists employed by Frederick Crace, the famed Regency designer. The bamboo pattern on the walls is created by pasting strips of printed paper onto the painted blue background, to give the effect of begin in a bamboo walled room set in the sky. This airy space was used not only for access to the bedrooms, but also as a place where breakfast was taken by the guests staying in the Pavilion. Madame de Boigne ,the daughter of the French ambassador wrote, while staying at the Pavillion in the 1820s that she was
…much astonished when I came out of my room to find the table upon the staircase landing. But what a landing and what a staircase! The carpets, the tables, the chairs, the porcelain, the china as exquisite as luxury and good taste could find.
Books, newspapers and excellent fires were also provided. I think it must have been quite a delightful space in which to breakfast. I have to point out to you one of my favourite aspects of the chamber floor : the recreated Brussels weave carpet, which covers the Gallery floor and is also in some of the bedrooms.
It has the most delightful floral pattern, and looks startlingly modern. The original would most probably have been made in Axminster in Devon, by Thomas Whitty who began making his famed Axminster method carpets there in 1755. He made the other carpets in the Pavilion and had first come to the Princes of Wales attention when he was commissioned to made carpets for the Prince at Carlton House. For example, he made the carpets that graced the Throne Room, below:
He was also patronised by George III and Queen Charlotte and also by the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth.
I do wonder what time the guests and the King would rise and exit from their bedrooms, however, if we consider they would have spent the previous night eating in the Banqueting Room and after enjoying after dinner entertainment in the Music room…I am convinced it would not be particularly early…
In one of the bed chambers, the last of the costumes in the Dress for Excess Exhibition are displayed. This was in fact the suite of rooms that the Prince Regent occupied until 1821,when he moved into a new suite of private apartments in the north-west wing of the Pavilion. We will look at them in our next post.
I again apologize for the darkness of the these photographs. But I hope you can see enough detail to satisfy yourselves. The three dresses on show are interesting because they delineate the history of the rise and fall of the waistline on females dresses during the Prince’s life time.
The cream dress on the left dates from the early 1800s, and its waist is elevated, to lie under the line of the bust.
(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)
In this much clearer photograph, which I have been given special permission to use by the Brighton Museum service, you can see the detail of the fabric, which is embroidered by tambour work. This was made on a taut, drum-like frame, hence the term “tambour”. This is the type of work Mrs Grant was undertaking at the Rectory at Mansfield in Chapter 7 of Mansfield Park.
(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)
The dress in the middle of the trio, shown below, dates from circa 1825.
You can see that by this date the waist is moving back down towards the natural waistline, but in this case the corsetry involved is far more restrictive than in the early 1800s and a small waist is now becoming the more fashionable shape to attain.
The last dress on show dates from the mid 1780s to 1790s. The waist is beginning to rise from the natural line of the was it but it is not as high as the example of the 1800s dress. Do note the dark printed patterned fabric: not everyone wore white all the time!
Next in this series, we go back downstairs to the Kings Apartments on the Ground Floor of the Pavillion.