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(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

In our last full post we studied  the exterior of that magical building,The Royal Pavilion at Brighton. A place Jane Austen would have truly detested for its associations with the Prince Regent, but still….

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

Today we are going to begin our tour of the interior. At this point I should sincerely like to thank, Sue Bishop and Ellie Taylor of the Royal Pavillion staff for all their help with my visit. Poor Ellie had to guide me around the Pavilion, and became my unofficial sherper bearer for the duration of my visit, carrying my heavy bags and coat to free me up for photography. The photographs I took were not of the highest standard. It is very , VERY rare to be granted permission to photograph the interior of the Pavilion and of course flash photography is not allowed. As you can see from the pervious posts, the day I visited was the darkest day of the year, and so ,even though these photographs were taken at noon, they tend to be rather dark. Ellie has rather wonderfully given me permission to use some of the Brighton Museums own photographs of the interior of the Pavillion and I will share them with you here as they do give a clear impression of the stunningly beautiful interiors to be found in the Pavilion.

Because the interiors are so special and unique I thought we’d take our time over our virtual trip and today and in our next post we shall visit some of the ground floor rooms and  then we will see some of the costumes on show on the ground floor. To help orientate you as we go on our tour, here, below,  is a close up of the ground plan of the Pavillion:

and here is it annotated in red with the route we are going to take today:  rooms numbers 1-4.

When you enter the Pavilion, you first enter a porte-cochere, ( number 1 in red on the plan) then the Octogon Hall,(number 2 in red on the plan)  so called because it has eight sides. Here you get the first intimation of the magnificent chinoiserie rooms that await you. Though the hall is quite plain compared with the rest of the building, it does have tiny bells that hang from the ceiling canopy …that would have tinkled in the breeze from the door….and a beautiful Chinese inspired glass lantern…

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

It gives you a tiny intimation of what delights are to come. I have seen this room described as being like a charming garden pavilion in its own right , and I do think that is the impression it gives. The watercolour reproduced above was one from a book commissioned by the Prince Regent from John Nash, his architect, to commemorate the rooms in his wonderfully fantastical palace.He used to give away copies to every favoured guest….do enlrage the images to see the exquisite detail.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

This is how the room looks like today..it is not much changed, the bells still hanging from the ceiling and the burnished brass fireplace gleaming a very cheerful greeting to any visitors who had been ushered in here by the royal footmen. The room  also gives a glimpse into the next room, marked number 3 in red on the plan, the Entrance Hall proper…

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

This is Nash’s view of it in the 1820s. If you enlarge it you can see some privileged visitor arriving by carriage, a view through to the porte-cochere through the Octagon Hall.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

This is how the room appears today. It still has its beautiful screen of painted glass and Chinese lanterns,and its decorating scheme of jade green

it is interesting to note that this room has always been carpeted. A departure from the norm, for most grand halls of great homes in the early nineteenth century had floors made of stone or marble. The Prince Regent was having none of that in his pleasure palace. He wanted comfort….and he got it.

This beautiful jade room then led to one of the most outstanding rooms in the Pavilion, the Long Gallery. This is numbered 4 on the plan above.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

This is how it appeared in the 1820s again in a watercolour by Nash. The decorations were created by that famous Regency decorator Frederick Crace. Though its primary use was as a corridor linking the main rooms, you can see from the books and furniture on show- the ivoery veneered Chippendale style chairs were brough by the Prince Regent from the sale of his mother,Queen Charlotte’s effects after her death in 1819- it also functioned as a very pleasant room, lit from above and by the splendid Chinese glass lanterns.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

A lovely touch is that there are now gas fires lit in every fireplace in the Pavilion, giving the impression of life and  also adding some warmth for the attendants and visitors on cold wintery days.

The Long Gallery was used as a route from the Banqueting room to the Music Room , where after dinner entertainments were held. But before we go to the Banqueting room, lets visit below stair to the Great Kitchen.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

This is Nash’s view of the room.And as you can clearly see it is a wonderfully practical and large kitchen( appropriately enough for the Prince who had a prodigious appetite) but that it also is in keeping with the exotically themed building: the cast iron columns supporting the roof are made in the form of palm leaves.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

The Prince Regent often showed his visitors around the Pavilion himself and took great delight in taking them to visit his whimsical but up to the minute kitchen. The Comtesse de Boigne recorded that

“If he (the Prince Regent-jfw) happened to meet any newcomers to the Pavilion, he took great delight in showing them over the palace himself, a special point being his kitchens, which were entirely steam heated by a system at that time new,with which he was charmed”

He employed many of the great chefs of the day here, most famously the French chef, Marie-Antoine Careme.

You can see the good ventilation in this room- something a lot of Georgian kitchen were without.

The magnificent roasting spits were powered by smoke jacks

There is still, in one corner the largest mortar and pestle I have ever seen

and every modern convenicne…General Tilney would have no doubt approved..

Next we go into the small but fascinating Pages Room and then the Oriental splendour of the Banqueting Room. Do join me!

For Cathy….and any other interested parties…..

 

I managed to find this old photograph in a very old Guide Book of the Pavilion-circa 1969 IIRC. You can see that the exterior of the Pavilion was quite a different colour then.

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