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This is the last post in my series on the costumes worn at the coronation of George IV in 1821, and the final post in the Dress for Excess exhibition series, and we are going to take a look at teh costume worn by the Barons of the Cinque Ports.

The Barons of the Cinque Ports  had a specific role in the coronations of the English monarchs: they  carried a canopy  over the heads of the monarch during the pre-coronation procession and during the coronation ceremony. The first time they are recorded as  participating in a coronation was in 1189 for the coronation of Richard I.

The Cinque Ports are a very old and interesting association, a confederation of ports on the Sussex and Kent coasts formed  by Royal Charter in the 12th century.  The confederation was very important historically, both for defence and for trade with mainland Europe, and had many rights and privileges in return for service to the Crown. The Cinque Ports Court of Admiralty still has jurisdiction over an extensive area of the North Sea and the English Channel, including the Straits of Dover which are amongst the busiest shipping lanes in the world, although the Court has not sat for many years. The Barons of the Cinque Ports part in George IVs coronation,

is detailed in my anonymous record of the coronation, shown above:

The first thing we observed on having entered the Hall( Westminster Hall where the participants in the coronation procession assembled prior to the Coronaiton ceremony- jfw ) was the canopy which was to be bourne over the King by the Barons of the Cinque Ports. This Canopy was yellow- of silk and gold embroidery, with short curtains of muslin spangled with gold. Eight bearers having fixed the poles by which the canopy was supported, which were of steel, with silver knobs, bore it up and down the Hall, to practise the mode of carrying it in the procession. It was then deposited at the upper end of the side table of the Hall, to the left of the Throne.  The canopy was very elegant in its form and was well calculated to add to the effect of the Procession…

The canopy was now removed from the side table where it has been placed, and was brought into the middle of the Hall. The Barons of the Cinque Ports were then marshalled two to each point of the support, they now bore the Canopy down the Hall by way of Practise…The Barons now took another march in the Hall.

The order of the procession was as shown in this extract from  the account  of the  Coronation:

Here is a close up of the  part that refers to  the Barons of the Cinque Ports and their  position, with their canopy:

However, some reports of the procession  back to Westminster Hall after the Coronation suggest that George IV walked in front of the canopy so that the onlookers could get a good sight of the newly crowned king . This  departure from the script was  obviously not discussed with the Barons , and an undignified sight ensued:

“At first all seems to have gone well, but on returning to Westminster Hall, the elderly bearers began to tire at their task, causing the canopy to sway from side to side. The King feeling nervous that it would descend on his head, thought it safer to walk slightly in front of it. This however, did not suit the stout hearts, though weak bodies, of the Barons, whose privilege and duty it was to bear the canopy exactly over the king, so they hastened their steps, the canopy swaying more and more with the increased pace. The King now became genuinely alarmed, and though of portly habits quickened his pace, and, as the canopy surged after him, as last broke into a somewhat unseemly jog trot, and in this manner they all arrived at Westminster Hall”

The costume worn by Thomas Lamb, who was the Lord Mayor of Rye at the time of the Coronation, is in the Brighton Museum collection and was on show in the Princes Gallery at the Royal Pavilion.

As you can see, it was yet  another costume that took its inspiration from the past. It is designed to look like a Tudor costume. The account  of the Coronation describes it as follows:

The dresses of the Barons were extremely splendid: large cloaks of garter blue satin, with slashed arms of scarlet and stockings of dead red.

This is a view of the front of the costume,with all its detailing, gold coloured buttons and gold lace:

I have to say that this costume, while impressive at a distance, is very much like a theatrical costume or , indeed, even a fancy dress outfit. It does not really give the impression of being very substantial, or of being made of fine and weighty fabrics. It is, in my humble opinion, a little bit flimsy.

The shoes worn by Thomas Lamb were also on show-: they were made of white kid leather decorated with red satin rosettes:

And so this ends my posts on the Dress for Excess Exhibit. I do hope you have enjoyed reading them. Once again I would like to take this opportunity to thank all at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton and the Brighton and Hove Musuem services for all their kindness and help with access and providing me with additional photographs.

Brighton Pavilion, George IV’s seaside folly,  has a wonderful new exhibit space, The Prince Regent Gallery which will be used to house exhibits relating to the Prince’s rather extravagant life and times.

The current exhibit is of some of  his clothes, to coincide with the Dress for Excess Exhibition, which I have covered extensively in the past few months. Some of the items on display relate to his Coronation in 1821, and I will be writing about these  in a few weeks time. The others garments are more personal item of clothing, and it is these clothes I am going to be writing about today.

The first is a superb Banyan:

©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

It dates from between 1770-1780. It is made of a beautiful Indian cotton printed with a floral design very typical of the late 18th century. The fabric has been quilted for extra warmth:

©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Here is a close-up of the collar:

©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

and here is a closeup of the Banyan showing the way the banyan jacket fastens, with silk frogging:

©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

The Banyan was worn in informal situations in George’s homes, similar really to a dressing gown. At the Pavillion it would most likely to have been worn in the Kings Private apartments than in the public rooms.

An interesting feature of this banyan is that a waistcoat, made of the same fabric,  is attached to the jacket of the banyan, inside the side seams.  This would have allowed the banyan to be worn open, with its front pieces tied back, thus giving the appearance of wearing a coat and a waistcoat.

This is a nightshirt which was worn by George IV circa 1830, near the end of his life.

©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

It is made from fine linen:

©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Embroidered on the right hand side of the nightshirt in red silk is the Royal cypher- the crown, together with the initials G. R .(which is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase,  Georgius Rex-, which translates as King George) and the date.

©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Both the night-shirt and these breeches, below, give a good indication of just how corpulent George IV became towards the end of his life. Always prone to weight gain, these breeches, made circa 1827, measure 55 inches around the waist.

©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

It is interesting to note that by this date trousers and become fashionable but George , once a  follower of fashion and disciple of Beau Brummel’s diktats, still clung to wearing breeches,  in a slightly dated manner

The label inside the breeches reveals them to have been made by Jonathan Meyer, the famous Regency tailor. An Austrian by birth he first specialised in making military uniforms. His premises were at 36  Conduit Street in Mayfair in London. He began making clothes for Beau Brummel and then for The Prince Regent in 1800. He was awarded a Royal warrant by George IV when he ascended the throne in 1820. interestingly, he pioneered the fashion for wearing trousers and was instrumental in the design of that garment, though. as we have seen. this was one fashion  that George IV was loath to adopt. Jonathan Meyers  tailoring business survives today, under the name Meyer and Mortimer,which was the firm he established in the 1830s along  with John Mortimer of Edinburgh who was also a tailor to the royal family. They still  practise bespoke tailoring at their premises of 6 Sackville Street, Mayfair in London.It is in this street, of course you will recall,  where Grey’s the jeweller also had premises, a fact that is mentioned in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. This was the place where the dandy, Roberrt Ferrars, ordered a toothpick case, and where

Elinor was carrying on a negotiation for the exchange of a few old-fashioned jewels of her mother.

Chapter 33

Greys was also patronised by George IV when he was Prince of Wales.

This is a picture of the beeches, taken in the Gallery with, from left to right, Martin Pel, Curator of Fashion and Textiles at the Royal Pavilion and Museums, Councellor David Smith, Brighton & Hove City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Recreation and Tourism, and designer and tailor, Gresham Blake

©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, photographer Jim Holden

The final piece of clothing is in fact an undergarment: a replica of the body belt or corset that George IV wore circa 1824.

The replica has been made form a card pattern made by one of George IVs tailors. It was worn as part of his undergarments. He famously wore one at his coronation in 1821 and he nearly fainted as a result of the combination of severe constriction caused by wearing the corset and with the great weight ( and heat) caused by wearing his magnificent and opulent  his coronation robes. And we shall be discussing them in the next post in this series. I do hope you have enjoyed looking at theses extraordinary garments as much as I did.

Today we visit the last of the rooms in George IV’s seaside folly, The Kings Private Apartments of the  Royal Pavilion at Brighton. His set of private apartments were originally to be found  on the first or Chamber floor, as we discovered in our last post in this series. However, as he aged, the King became rather fat and infirm.  Afflicted with gout, he found it increasingly difficult to negotiate climbing the stairs in the Gallery.  And so, in 1819 while he was still Prince Regent, he had John Nash create a new suite of rooms for him on the ground floor.

The rooms, which overlooked the gardens to the entrance front of the Pavilion, were a quiet retreat from the hubbub of the rest of the Pavilion, filled, as it was, with servants and guests. You can see the position of the rooms on this section of the ground floor plan of the Pavilion:

There are three rooms in the suite,  indicated by the three red arrows: The Kings Bedroom, his Private Library and Anteroom.

This is a photograph I took of the entrance front earlier this year,

and the King’s Apartments are to be found behind this screen, to the left of the porte-cochere:

This is a temporary screen while renovations to the stone work are being carried out.

The King’s Private Apartments are, stylistically, decorated in a  somewhat restrained manner, certainly when compared to the rest of the Pavilion. All three rooms are wallpapered in the same wallpaper,and this give the rooms a unifying feeling of peace and space. This is John Nash’s water-colour of the King’s Bedroom as it appeared in the 1820s (which can be enlarged if you care to click on it).

You can see the cooling and restful effect of the wallpaper. The design is still in the Chinoiserie style but it is more restrained .It conisits of pale pink dragons on a green ground. It was designed by Robert Jones. The bedroom still had enough luxuries to keep George IV in the style of which he had become accustomed: the desk is French and was once owned by Napoleon, England’s defeated adversary. There were three gib doors concealed in the walls of the room: one led from the fireplace wall to the Kings Bathroom, an innovation in the early 19th century to have possess a  room designated speifically for bathing. This room had a very large marble tub which was 16 feet long by 10 feet wide, and  which was filled with salt water taken from the sea and supplied to the  Pavilion by an ingenious series of pipes and pumping machinery. The two other gib doors led very different places. The first to the valet’s staircase and would have been used by the Princes’ valet. The other, more controversially, led to a small staircase which communicated directly with Lady Conynham’s apartments on the Chamber room floor, which were  directly above the King’s apartments. These of course, enabled the King’s mistress to visit him in privacy…I’m sure Jane Austen,who detested the Prince of Wales for his lax morals among other matters, would not have approved of this at all!

The Private Library and Anteroom lead from the King’s Bedroom: this is the view from the bedroom into the two other rooms:

Both these rooms were decorated with  a slightly different version of Robert Jones’ dragon damask wallpaper- it has a different border design across the top of the paper, as you can see from Nash’s watercolour,below, especially if you click on it and enlarge it:

You can see the pattern of the wallpaper more clearly in this picture below (and also see the delicate detail of the fan-vaulted columns):

My favourite aspect of these rooms are the beautiful sky ceilings…At this point in the early nineteenth century, libraries were used as the main living rooms in the homes of the rich. As Humphrey Repton noted  in 1816, The modern custom is to use the library as the general living-room. George IV inherited his father’s love of books. He gave most of his father’s scientific and topographical books to the British Museum,but he collected, instead, many many thousands of volumes of literature. I wonder if his set of Jane Austen’s novel Emma, which she reluctantly dedicated to him, were kept in this room?

The rooms had another unifying feature: nearly all the ornaments displayed in the rooms have a colour scheme of black and gold.

My poor picture, above, shows a wall light in carved, ebonised and gilt wood, which was  designed by that most influential arbiter of Regency taste in interior design, Thomas Hope (more on him next year!). The wall lamp dates from 1807. Here is a more detailed picture of it:

A similar design  was in fact included in his influential book, Household Furniture and Interior Decoration,which was first published in 1807. Here is the frontispiece of that book, below:

And here is his design for a Drawing-Room, again, taken from my copy of that book:

You can clearly see the wall lights, which are very similar in style to those in the King’s apartments. Here is a close up for you to compare:

And that ends our tour of the Pavilion..or nearly so. The  Prince Regent Gallery is a new room in the Pavillion: an exhibition space where objects related to the King can be displayed to the public. My next two posts will deal with the current display; the first with details of  some of George IV’s fascinating clothes, the second will detail some items of clothing associated with his coronation, which have not been seen in public for many, many years. Do join me.

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….

In this fifth part of our journey around the Royal Pavilion , Brighton, George IVs pleasure palace, which would no doubt have been an object of scorn for Jane Austen , as averse to him as she most decidedly was……we are now nearing the end of the tour of the rooms on the Steyne Front on the ground floor. (You can see the ground-plan of the Pavilion, above).  After leaving the Banqueting Gallery, we move into the Saloon, which is the central room on the facade, numbered “1” in red on the ground-plan above.

This room was being restored when I visited, and so to see the interior we shall take a look at another of the watercolours by John Nash, the Prince Regent’s favoured architect. This is his  view of the room as it appeared in the 1820s.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

This room was originally decorated in the Chinoiserie style but from the 1820s it took on a different character, and was re-decorated in the Indian style.  The gilded canopies above the wall panels, the overmantle mirrors and above the curtains are all derived from Mogul architecture. The scheme was designed by Robert Jones.

This room leads directly into the Music Room Gallery, seen below. Again this room has undergone many changes in style: it was first divided into two rooms-aneating room and a library. This was when the Pavilion took the form of the Marine Pavilion, designed by Henry Holland in the 1780s. The room was then made into its current large size and the dividing wall was removed. It was decorated in the Chinoiserie style in 1803. It was then used as a billiards room. It then underwent another change and  was decorated in the Egyptian Style. Accordingly  it was known as the Egyptian Gallery. But in 1815 the Prince reverted to type and Chinoiserie again was designated as the theme for the room, and in 1821 it was eventually decorated in the style we see today and in Nash’s watercolour, below.

The elegant columns are made of cast iron and support the floor above. Some of the furniture from the Chinese Drawing Room in Carlton House in London, the place Jane Austen visited in 1815, made its way here before that building was demolished. .This room was often used for small musical gatherings.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

It is in this room that some of the Dress for Excess costumes are on display.  A lady’s pelisse circa 1825…

And here is a better picture of it, remember you can enlarge all these photographs simply by clicking on them…..

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

Here is a close-up of the front detail of the pelisse

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

and here is a close-up photograph of the shoulder detail. I love the covered button detail……

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

Also on display was a very elaborate spencer made of fine silk

and a uniform worn at the Battle of Waterloo……which is quite ironic as the Prince Regent was so impressed by the Allies victory at Waterloo in 1815 that by the end of  his life he had convinced himself that he was actually there taking part. Which he decidedly was not.

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Next in this series, the magnificent Music Room.

In this post, the fourth in this series, we are going to concentrate on only one room in the Pavilion at Brighton, The Banqueting Gallery.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

This was the room used by the Prince of Wales’ guests after they had finished dining in the Banqueting Room. The ladies would first withdraw to the Red Drawing Room, below…

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

marked 3 in red on the ground-plan of the rooms, below.

This room is not normally accessible to the public on the usual tour, as it is the room used for civil wedding ceremonies held at the Pavilion. The  ladies would then move back to the Banqueting Gallery, number 2 on the plan, when the gentlemen had left the Banqueting Room after their political and probably rowdy discussions. This room is marked number 1 on the plan.

Above is Nash’s View of the Gallery as it was in the 1820s, and you can see that it is very similar today, after the restoration projects of the 1950s and onwards. The Brussels weave carpet is particularly striking. If you enlarge the image ( which you can do by clicking on it-as you can for all the images in this post) you can just see the torcheres in the Banqueting Room which were made by Spode, in imitation of Servres,especially for the Prince’s quite overpowering dining room.

An interesting point is that this room, the Banqueting Gallery, encompasses the space that was all the original farmhouse , which in turn became part of the Princes’s Marine Villa and which finally and magnificently morphed into the Pavilion that we know now.

This is the first room in the Pavilion that contains clothes in the Dress for Excess exhibition. My photographs are, sadly, quite poor: the light levels in the room are understandably kept very low and there is only ambient artificial lighting. But the very kind staff at the Pavilion,  particularly Ellie Taylor, have arranged for me to use some of their professional photographs of the costumes, in order that you can see the details more clearly.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

The first costume we see is a gentleman’s suit, made of fine silk, dating from circa 1760.


Here you can see it, along with a sack dress of the same era, in the setting of the Banqueting Gallery.

The sack dress was made of delicately embroidered silk…..

Here is the reverse view , showing the back detail

This photograph shows some of the detialing on the bodice….

I am always amazed at the tiny proportions of the gentlemen’s suits of this era: this one is rather small, and you would probably need to be a British size 6 woman to fit into it…

At the other end of the Gallery were some more costumes to view

Below is a Dandy’s outfit from circa 1825

This was accompanied by a very beautiful shawl backed dress circa 1790….

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

And finally a white muslin dress with white on white embroidered detail and lace dating from 1825….

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

These pictures of the shawl backed dress show the detail of the beautiful fabric used….

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

If you click on them( and indeed any of the photographs in this post) they will open in a separate window and enlarge so you can see the detail.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

The small sleeves are exquisitely made…..

It is interesting to be able to compare the two dress styles – only 30 years apart , but vastly different…

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

If you enlarge this picture , above,you can see the lace and embroidery in some detail….

Next, some more costumes and the magnificent Music Room.

(©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!

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.

A new exhibition which promises to be full of interest for us opens today in Brighton. Entitled Dress for Excess: Fashion in Regency England, it opens on the 200th anniversary of the passing into law of the Regency Act, which passed de facto powers of ruling Britain and its Empire from George III,who was suffering from the effects of porphyria, to his eldest son, Geroge.

The exhibition will be open for a year, and celebrates the life of George IV as Prince, Regent and King, through the fashions of the late Georgian period. It is organised by the Royal Pavilion & Museums, part of Brighton & Hove City Council, and will  provide an insight into the way these fashions from the late 18th and early 19th century have helped to influence the clothes we wear today.

The Press Release and photographs which the Museum was so kind to send to me yesterday, gives some very tempting descriptions of what is on show, and I quote from it below:

“George loved fashion and design – the more opulent and extravagant the better – and the exotic, oriental design of the Royal Pavilion, which was his seaside residence, bears testament to this.

His coronation was the most expensive in British history and his huge coronation robe is going on public display for the first time in 30 years.

The silk velvet robe, which is trimmed with ermine, measures more than five metres (16 feet) long and needed eight bearers rather than the usual six to carry it at the coronation.

(Gresham Blake, the renowned and acclaimed tailor, takes a closer look at the King George IV’s spectacular 16 foot long coronation robe which forms the centrepiece of the Dress for Excess exhibition. ©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, photographer Jim Holden)

Alongside his coronation robe will be two costumes worn in his coronation procession.

The exhibition will include men and women’s fashions, from a tailored dandy’s costume and military uniform worn at the Battle of Waterloo to elegant high-waisted cotton muslin gowns and beautiful silk garments, highlighting style influences from the period and themes from George’s life. The costumes are displayed across a number of rooms, set against the grand backdrop of the Royal Pavilion.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, photographer Jim Holden)

A new exhibition space, the Prince Regent Gallery, is dedicated to George himself. On display will be items of his clothes, including a beautifully printed banyan (an early form of indoor coat or dressing gown) from the 1770s, shown below,

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, photographer Jim Holden)

and huge breeches that George wore towards the end of his life as his waistline expanded.

((L to R) Martin Pel, Curator of Fashion and Textiles at the Royal Pavilion and Museums, Cllr David Smith, Brighton & Hove City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Recreation and Tourism, and designer tailor Gresham Blake in the new Prince Regent Gallery at the Royal Pavilion. They are shown with a huge pair of George IV’s breeches which were worn towards the end of his life as his waistline expanded. ©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, photographer Jim Holden)

To complement the costumes there will be popular images of George: caricatures will take a satirical look at his life from his many mistresses, his continual descent into debt, and his love of Brighton. These caricatures are taken from the Baker Collection, which was recently acquired by the museum.

These will be contrasted with official portraits of George, showing him as he wished to be seen; as a monarch in his garter robes to military leader in hussar uniform. These paintings are taken from Brighton Museum’s collection.

The exhibition marks the 200th anniversary of the Regency Act, which was passed on February 5 1811, passing the powers of the monarchy to George as his father was ill.

It is only the second time a fashion exhibition has been held in the Royal Pavilion and the building’s rich collections of furniture, textiles and decorative arts provide the perfect setting to bring the pieces to life.

(Gresham Blake and Cllr David Smith with a hand painted Chinese silk robe and petticoat dating from 1760-65 (on loan from Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery) and a gold silk-satin coat, breeches and vest dating from 1780-85, which is part of the Royal Pavilion and Museum’s collection.©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove, photographer Jim Holden)

Smith, Brighton & Hove City Council’s cabinet member for Culture, Recreation and Tourism, said: “George IV really put Brighton on the map as a fashionable seaside destination and this exhibition, in the amazing surroundings of his holiday home, will provide a fascinating insight into both his life and the fashions of the time.”

Martin Pel, Curator of Fashion and Textiles at the Royal Pavilion and Museums, said: “More than any other monarch, George knew the power of dress. Whether it was the dandy fashions of his youth or the military uniforms he wore as an adult, as he sought a role for himself while waiting nearly 60 years to be crowned king. His love of fashion was not merely an expensive indulgence, but a significant part in creating who George was.”

He added: “The Regency period really was the beginning of modern fashion for both men and women. In men’s fashion trousers became the norm, rather than breeches, as did sober colours and hard wearing fabrics such as wool. Women too began to wear simpler styles in practical cotton fabrics. Unlike men’s fashion this wasn’t to last for women and they would soon revert back to clothes which displayed wealth. Interestingly though, when ‘modern’ fashion re-appeared for women in the early twentieth century it was based on the styles of the Regency period.”

The Museum have been kind enough to invite me to view the exhibition,and to write about it here, so in a few weeks time  look out for what I hope will be some very interesting posts about it. Jane Austen was not a fan of the Prince Regent, not at all: but he did, of course, ask her to dedicate “Emma” to him, and his daughter Princess Charlotte was very fond of Miss Austen’s novels, so I’m sure she will forgive me for writing about it here. ( To mis-quote Lydia Bennet in the 1995 adaptation of Pride and PrejudiceI AM going to Brighton!

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