Now, in the seventh part to this series-which you may be glad to hear is nearing its end!- we leave the ground floor to go upstairs to the bedrooms on the first floor of the Pavilion, George IV’s pleasure place in the then very fashionable seaside town of Brighton. A place he made fashionable by adopting it as his summer home, away from the influence of his parents rather staid courts in London, Kew and Windsor. In order to reach the first floor we have to leave the Music Room and enter into the Gallery again.
You can see from the floor plan, below, that the Gallery has two identical staircases:
The Gallery and the Staircases are marked by the red arrows on the plan.
As you may recall, the Gallery connects the Banqueting Room and the Music Room and is an almost overwhelming confection of pink Chinoiserie…
(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)
You can catch a glimpse of one of the staircases in this picture. This is how John Nash recorded it for the Prince Regent in the 1820s
If you enlarge the print you can see all the delicious detail…and also see one of the staircases at the far end of the Gallery, leading to the Banqueting Room.
This watercolour also by Nash, shows the staircase nearest the Music Room.
If you look closely, you can just glimpse the Prince Regent, accompanied by two ladies,walking towards the mirrored doors that lead from the Music Room into the Gallery and its staircases.
The mirrored doors are used to give the impression that the stairs are larger than they really are: the reflection gives the impression that they return in two more flights behind the real ones. Clever.
The stairs continue the Chinoiserie theme…..as you would expect…
The balustrades look as if they are made of bamboo. In fact, they are made of cast iron, and the painted handrail is made from carved mahogany.
You can see that the bamboo effect is very cleverly done. Not only is the iron very carefully cast to resemble the shape of bamboo, the balustrade and handrail are painted very carefully to mimic it, complete with knots and joints.
The Staircase is lit by stained glass windows painted with Chinese figures.
This is the slightly different set of stained glass windows used in the staircase which is at the other end of the Gallery. Again lamps lit and placed behind these windows would be used to illuminate the window at night: the effect must have been spectacular.
And in the ceiling, more stained glass, painted in the Chinese style, throws a subtle, beautiful light onto the staircase.
This colour scheme of pink and blue can be thought startling by some, but I love it. The light in their stairwell is diffuse and beautiful.Its a small part of the Pavilion,but one of the most successful rooms, in my humble opinion. The attention to detail as found in the balustrade and handrail is amazing and exquisite. But then teh spendthrift Prince,whom Jane Austen so detested, would not have had it any other way….