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Today we return to our tour of the Brighton Pavillion, the magnificent seaside palace which was the darling child of Jane Austen’s most detested Prince Regent.  She would most certainly have not approved of him or his excesses, but as evidence of his world has survived, I see no reason for us not to take a look (and secretly enjoy it all!)

Today I am going to concentrate on only one room, as it is so magnificent: The Music Room. You can see its position in the building by looking at the  ground floor plan of the rooms in the Pavillion, below. This floor plan shows the Pavillion as it was in the 1820s and the Music Room’s position on the Steyne Frontage of the building is indicated by the red arrow:

This is how it appeared in the 1820s…

This watercolour by John Nash, who then was the Prince Regent’s favoured architect and who was responsible for the design of the building, shows the Prince sitting to the left of the picture. He is depicted  sitting between his mistress of the time, Lady Conyngham and her daughter.

 

It is thought that the couple opposite them on the far right of the picture are the Duke and Duchess of Wellington.

 

The orchestra-The Royal Band- is shown standing before the magnificent organ, and it is thought that the conductor may even be Gioachino Rossini who visited the Pavilion on the 20th December 1823 to conduct and direct the members of the royal band in playing selections from his operas for the entertainment of the Court. His operas were,of course ,the big musical hits of the day…We do have to note that the Prince, later George IV was a man who wanted the best…of everything…all the time….

 

This room is, as you can see, splendid in every way.

 (©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

You can clearly see the organ in the rear centre of the photograph above, and in my photograph, below. The organ was the largest and most powerful domestic organ made in England at the time…Well, of course it was….

The Prince was terribly fond of music and its importance to him is shown in the decoration of this astounding room. All the Chinoiserie decoration was the work of  three people, John Nash and the decorators, Frederick Crace and Robert Jones. It took nearly two years to complete it; work began on the room in March 1818 and ended in January 1820.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

The deep and dramatic colors are an indication that this room was primarily intended for use in the evening, after the company had eaten in the Banqueting room and then processed along the Gallery. Then, in the dark, the colours would glow and the room and the lighting would-be seen to best advantage. The gaolers, which are chandeliers powered by gas, which was introduced as a power source to the building  from 1821, are in the shape of waterlilies.

And the clerestory windows, which you can see in the photographs above and  below, were like the windows in the Banqueting Room, designed to be lit from behind at night, to add to the overall splendour.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

Robert Jones designed the chimney piece-at a cost that would have impressed even Mr Collins- £1684, and the Spode Pagodas-four of which are over 15 feet high- are now in the Royal Collection at Buckingham Palace.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

The French artist, Lambelet was responsible for the wall panels painted in imitation of Chinese lacquer, and which depicted scenes from Sir George Staunton’s book, An Authentic Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China by William Alexander, which was published in 1796.

In accordance with the general over the top Chinoiserie theme, Dragons abound…holding chandeiliers…

Their tails curling sinuously down the curtains…..

This is just a magnificently over the top room- and what is even more interesting is that this room’s current state of preservation is a miraculous work of restoration as it was almost entirely destroyed by fire in 1975. While Jane Austen may not have approved of it, I find it absolutely entrancing.The stuff of dreams.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

You may like to know that this exhibition has recently been awarded the Sussex Fashion Outstanding Achievement Award 2011. we shall see more of the costumes in the next post in this series.

Those of you who have not yet been lucky enough to have seen this wonderful series, written and presented by Professor Amanda Vickery,( shown above with two of her favourite characters, Lord and Lady Shelbourne) and which is SO relevant to understanding the era in which Jane Austen lived, will now have the opportunity to purchase the DVD.  It has just been released by the BBC and is now available to buy in all the usual outlets, shops or online.

If you are not familiar with it then do read my detailed reviews of the series, Episode One here, Episode Two here , and Episode Three here . As you can probably tell, I loved the series, particular Episode Two, A Woman’s Touch. You can also read my interview with Amanda Vickery  about the series here and my interview with Neil Crombie, one of the directors, here

If you live outside the UK and want to see the series this may be your only way of doing it, for, as far as I am aware, the series has not been brought by any overseas broadcasters. So its time to fire up those multi-region DVD players…;)

Sadly, there are no extra features on the DVD, but  there is much to savour and enjoy in the programmes themselves. The three programmes in the series were fabulously produced, directed and filmed last summer on location throughout England and Wales, at some of our most interesting buildings, from the  very sumptuous to the much less so. Written and presented by Amanda Vickery the series is based on her book, Behind Closed Doors, and is a wonderful companion piece to it. So, go to it , you will not regret it ;)

Go here to see it. Enjoy!

Many of you are already aware that I love this museum, set in East London and which is unusual in that it documents middle class interiors and gardens from 1600 to the present day. Its website is well worth exploring and it has two new additional features which I thought you might like to know about, for they are invaluable to those of us who are deeply  interested in the type of interiors Mrs Martin might have had at Abbey Mill Farm in Emma , or to see just how Charlotte Collins nee Lucas might have arranged the backwards-facing room which was her very own at the Rectory at Hunsford in Pride and Prejudice.

The first feature is a themed set of pages: Life in the Living Room 1600-2000

From this opening page you can click onto various pages where you will be taken to illustrations and descriptions of elements common to  livings rooms of the middling sort  during these periods. For example, this is an example of 18th century carpet

Here we have a group portrait of John Middleton and his family dating from 1795-7, showing a typically arranged living room  or parlour of  the period…

And here is a room set at the Geffrye Museum itself-part of the illustrations on these pages – showing a parlour circa 1770.

Also included is the new feature-Search the collections. New items ar being added to this section every week. If for example you search on the term  tea-pot, then the  seven items shown below will appear on your computer screen. You can then investigate each item further and, if you like, save it to your own “pinboard” so that you can print the details off later.

Marvellous: I have spent some hours investigating this feature already,and I hope you all enjoy it.

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