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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.

George IV’s coronation included some details of ceremonial which were never repeated by any subsequent coronation. The Kings Herb-woman was one such element. This was a post that had first been created by Charles II on his restoration to the Crown in 1660. The first King’s Herb-Woman was one Brigit Rumney. She held the position from 1660 until 1671, and her family had close associations with service in the Stuart household, and had also remained faithful to them throughout the difficult years of the Interregnum.

The position was an important one in the Stuart Court for, in the days before proper sanitation, the Herb Woman’s main duty was to strew sweet smelling herbs and flowers around the King’s apartments to mask the rather foul smells that could then emanate from the dark corners of Whitehall Palace, from uncovered sewers and drains and from the London rivers, notably the Thames.

Bridgit received a salary of £12 per annum for being the

garnisher and trimmer of the chapel, presence and privy lodgings

She also received another £12 per annum for strewing herbs around the private apartments of Queen Catherine of Braganza, who was Charles II’s wife. It might interest you to know that in addition to her salary, the Herb-woman received two yards of superfine scarlet woollen cloth for a livery uniform.  The last full time Herb Strewer was  Mary Rayner, who was employed in the Royal Household from 1798 until 1836.

However, she was obviously not smart enough socially for Geroge IV, who, as we know, wanted to present his very particular vision of monarchy at his Coronation. He appointed a friend, Miss Anne Fellowes, to replace Mary Rayner as the Herbs-woman in the Coronation Procession. Miss Fellowes was  about 50 years of age at the time of the Coronation in 1821. One of her duties was to choose six young attendants, who would follow her in the Coronation procession.

In fact, the Herb-woman and her  attendants led the procession from Westminster Hall to Westminster Abbey. In my anonymous account of the Coronation, published in 1821 there is a description of the Herb-woman and her attendants  assembling in Westminster Hall, just prior to the Coronation taking place, and it give  us some idea of their appearance :

Soon after 8 o’ clock Mr Fellowes led into the hall Miss Fellowes who afterwards preceeded the procession on the royal platform as His Majesty’s Herb Woman; she was attended by Miss Bond, Miss G. Collier, Miss Caldwell,  Miss Hill,  Miss Daniel and Miss Walker, in the character of assistant maids. Miss Fellowes was attired in a magnificent dress of white satin with a mantle of the finest scarlet cloth, trimmed with gold and lined with white satin, and she bore a splendid gold badge and chain. The head dress was of gold wheat intermixed with grapes and laurel leaves. This was appropriate and elegant in the highest degree.

The attendant maids wore white crape dress over rich white satin, with an appropriate sash of flowers suspended from the shoulder to the bottom of the skirt and flowers tastefully arranged in the trimming, with Gabriel ruffs; the head dresses of these ladies  consisted of chaplets of flowers to correspond with the general designs of their dress.

Miss Fellowes carried a most beautiful basket, filled with the choicer and most rare flowers and the attendant young ladies bore, in pairs,  three baskets of elegant construction,  formed for two persons and filled with a similar profusions of Flora’s bounty. The flower baskets were brought into the Hall and placed opposite to the ladies, who were accommodated with chars at the extremity of the Hall.

Here from the same pamphlet, is the Order of the Coronation Procession, showing the Herb-woman and her attendants leading the way: One of the Attendant’s costumes was on show along with George IV’s Coronation Robe at the Dress for Excess Exhibit at the Brighton Pavilion which ended last Sunday:

It’s Gabriel Ruff, which echoed the costume of  the Tudor period, in keeping with George’s ” historic” theme,  is missing, but you can see that it accords early well with the description above .  

The delicate pleating of the crepe material can be seen in this photograph of the rear view of the costume.

The garland- with its pink fabric roses- is terribly delicate and I am amazed it has survived. This dress was worn at the  Coronation by Miss Sarah Ann Walker.

Though the Herb-woman no longer has any ceremonial or practical functions in the Royal Household, you might be interested to note that she still exists. Ms Jessica Fellowes, whom I believe is the niece of Julian Fellowes and is also author of the Downton Abbey book, claims the title by descent, and if you go here you can see her opening the Herb Society’s garden at Sulgrave Mnanor.

Regency ephemera buffs will also like to see this panorama roll of the Coronation , which shows some illustrations of the Herb-Woman’s attendants in the procession to Westminster Abbey, and which is in the collection of the South Australian Government. I covet it very badly.

Next, the costume worn at the Coronation by the Barons of the Cinque Ports.

The ferocious winter storm and the power cuts attendant upon it have meant that my little series on some of the costumes worn at George IV’s Coronation has been slightly delayed. But, now that power has been restored, here is the first post…

George IV’s coronation in 1821 was the most spectacular and certainly the most expensive English coronation up to that point in history. But knowing George and his extravagances as we do, it would have been surprising had it not been anything else. Jane Austen would no doubt have been horrified by it all. She was no admirer of George, his morals or his politics and she especially detested his treatment of his wife, Caroline of Brunswick. In a letter to her great friend, Martha Lloyd dated 16th February 1813 she wrote:

Poor woman, I shall support her as long as I can, because she is a Woman and because I hate her Husband

She would, I am sure,have been horrified by the fact that, despite still being his wife- albeit now estranged and discredited- Caroline was banned from the ceremony  and turned away from the doors of the Abbey itself.  However, this post is not meant to be a definitive account of the coronation- there are may of those available to read in print and on the internet- but merely to look at the some of costumes worn, and which were recently on display at George IV’s seaside folly, The Royal Pavilion at Brighton, in the Dress for Excess exhibition, which closed on Sunday.

Note I use the term “costumes” for however else can you really describe these items of clothing? They were not fashionable, contemporary clothes, but were extravagant costumes deliberately designed to give the onlooker the definite impression of watching the ancient customs of an ancient royal family. They were based on designs from the Tudor era to give the impression of antiquity.

Today we shall look at the sumptuous train that George IV wore. Here is George in his coronation robes and splendour, as painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence:

The reason for the references to past times was that George desperately wanted to out shine Napoleon’s coronation- a new comer to the scene- which had taken  place in Paris in 1804, and here is David’s spectacular  version of it ( in which Josephine very calculatedly steals the show!)  for you to compare  Napoleon’s neoclassical vision with George’s mock Tudor version:

Below is the engraving of George in his robes by James Stephanoff . One of the engravings for the illustrations which were included in Sir George Nayler’s commemorative book, The Coronation of George IV ( 1821)

This shows the King attired in the robe and train, and, as yet, uncrowned. He is followed by his attendants, depicted as they would have walked in the procession to Westminster Abbey, where the coronation took place, from their marshalling point in Westminster Hall. The King’s attendants were eight sons of Peers, and the Master of the Robes. The lucky eight peer’s sons were( from left to right) the Earl of Surrey, the Marquess of Douro, Viscount Cranborne, the Earl of Brecknock, the Earl of Uxbridge, the Earl of Rocksavage, the Earl of Rawdon and  Viscount Ingestre. The last figure is of Lord Francis Conyngham who was the Master of the Robes.

This is how  this part of the Coronation procession was described in an anonymous but contemporary report of the Coronation,  A Brief Account of the Coronation of His Majesty George IV, July 19th 1821″ :

The King in the Royal Robes wearing a cap of estate, adorned with jewels, under a canopy of cloth of Gold bourne by 16 Barons of the Cinque Ports. His Majesty’s train bourne by 8 eldest Sons of Peers, assisted by the Master of the Robes.

Note nothing was said about George’s luxuriant brown wig, which he also wore to give an impression of youth…

Here is a print  from that same account showing the Coronation procession snaking from Westminster Hall, past St Margaret’s Parish Church, on to the Abbey on the right of the print:

The train that George IV wore was kept in the Royal Collection until the 1830s when it was sold to Madame Tussauds. Here is a photograph of the train as it is now, and how it appeared on show in the Gallery at the Pavilion:

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

The train now measures 16 feet long and is beautifully embroidered in silver wire.  The border is made of  representations and trophys of the emblems of the United Kingdon, again in silver wire. The main body of the train is embroidered with stylised “Tudor” roses. The train is made of crimson velvet. Do please click on the photograph , which I have been given special permission to use by Brighton Museum Service, so that you can see the details of the embroidery.

So, while it is debatable that George managed to out-do Napoleon in splendour ( or indeed, taste),it is interesting to  know that French money- part of the reparations paid to Britain for the Napoleonic wars- was used to pay for this spectacle. Here is a scan of my copy of  an Account of the Money Expended  at His Majesty’s Coronation:

If you click on the image and enlarge it you can see that the furnishing and the decoration of Westminster Abbey and Westminster Hall, the Regalia ( which included the fabulous Hope Diamond and  12,314 “hired” diamonds from the firm of Rundell Bridge and Rundell of Ludgate Hill) ...the Dresses etc of the Persons attending and performing the various Duties..cost £111,172 9 shillings and 10 pence. An astounding sum of money.  The French money- some £138,238- had been paid to Britain as part of the reparations after the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815. Even so, the total cost of the Coronation was an eye watering  £238,238 and 2 pence. This is equivalent today to something between £9 and 18 million.

Next, the costumes of the Herb Women .

The Brighton Museum Press Office has just announced that a new exhibition on the short life of Princes Charlotte, is to be held in the sumptuous surroundings of her father’s seaside pleasure place/folly, The Royal Pavillion at Brighton. She was, of course, George IVs only legitimate child and heir presumptive to the English throne until her premature death in childbirth in 1817. As the Press Release reminds us:

A feisty, headstrong tomboy as a child, Charlotte became very popular with the public, unlike her father, and was referred to as the Daughter of England. She married Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg Gotha and the couple were happily married for just a year and a half until tragedy struck. She gave birth to a stillborn son in November 1817 and died shortly after the birth. Charlotte’s death and the death of her son changed the course of royal history. Charlotte would have become Queen had she outlived her father and grandfather and Queen Victoria is unlikely to have succeeded to the throne – there would have been a ‘Charlottian’ age rather than a Victorian one.

The exhibition will be held for a year, from March 10th 2012 until March 10th 2013 in the Prince Regent Gallery. This is the Pavilion’s new exhibition space and was where some of the items in the Dress for Excess exhibit were on show( my last post on that exhibit will hopefully be published next week!). The exhibit will focus on the life and tragic death of the Princess through a range of exhibits including personal items such as two of her gowns, her handwritten music book, along with paintings, prints, ceramics, jewellery and glassware

Allow me to quote David Beevers, Keeper of the Royal Pavilion:

“The exhibition is about a princess who has fallen off the radar. Most people now have no idea who Princess Charlotte is – and yet her death hit Britain like a thunderbolt, the effects were extraordinary, the country closed down for virtually a week and everything was swathed in black. The closest equivalent is the outpouring of public grief after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

 “The Royal Pavilion, where the Princess spent some happy times, is the perfect place to bring Charlotte’s story to life and provide an insight into the fascinating and charismatic person she was.

 “For the first time in a generation, the Royal Pavilion and Museums’ extensive collection of material relating to the Princess will be displayed, along with items on loan from the Royal Collection, museums and private collections. It will highlight a fascinating royal story during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Year and enable people to learn more about the royals who stayed at the Royal Pavilion.”

We have discussed the life, wedding and death of this poor Princess and her admiration for Sense and Sensibility before, here. The press release tell us that viewing the exhibition will be an opportunity to see some of the most important surviving items of clothing associated with Princes Charlotte:

Exhibits in the new exhibition include a Russian-style dress which belonged to Princess Charlotte, on loan from the Royal Collection;(which can be seen in the portrait below-jfw),

(Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales, George Dawe, 1817, copyright National Portrait Gallery, London).

Her silver and white evening gown, on loan from the Museum of London;

a bust of Princess Charlotte, from Manchester Art Gallery; a baby’s shift she wore as an infant, from the Pavilion and Museum’s own collection, plus a nightshirt made as part of a layette for the baby she was expecting.  These two gowns, above, will be on display for the first six months of the exhibition, but they will be replaced in mid September

for the second half of the exhibition with Charlotte’s wedding gown, above, on loan from the Royal Collection. 

It sounds fascinating, and you know that the Royal Pavillion, with its over-the-top Chinoiserie decoration is one of my favourite places. This new exhibition will be a powerful draw to Brighton, yet again, though I’m doubtful I will be able to get there to see it in person this year due to other commitments. If any of you do go please let us know your thoughts!

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.

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.

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… 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….

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.

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.


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.

Continuing our tour of the Pavilion, today we are moving on from the magnificent Kitchen, as detailed in our last post in the series…

and today our tour recommences in the Pages Room, shown as number  6 on the  plan of the ground floor rooms in the Pavilion, below.

This is the room where the dishes for the Prince Regent’s banquets would be assembled and then rushed out by the footmen to the waiting guests in the Banqueting Room.

Again the placement of this room, so close to the kitchen and the grand rooms of the Pavilion, indicates the importance of food to the Prince regent. In most grand Georgian buildings the kitchen and domestic offices were deliberately situated a long way away from the formal dining room so that cooking smells (and noises) did not  intrude on the social life of the owners (see this piece on Kedleston and the arrangement of the kitchen there)

But in the Pavilion, the high-tech Kitchen and the Pages Room were directly next to the Banqueting Room.

No fear of any food being served below temperature here…

The Banqueting Room, adjoining, is an astounding, extravagant room. And is numbered “7” on the ground-plan above.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

This is Nash’s watercolour of it as it appeared in the 1820s

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

In this close up of that picture, above, you can clearly see The Prince Regent, or George IV, as he was after the death of his father George III in 1820, sitting half way down the table, facing us. The male figure at the end of the table, on the same side as the King is the architect responsible for most of this exuberance,  John Nash. Do click on this and all the other images in this post to examine the detail.

(©Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove)

This is how the room appears today, very  little changed from that scene in the 1820s. The most magnificent sight in the room is probably the chandeliers. They hang from a dome, painted as if it is open to a tropical and not a Sussex sky. The main chandelier hangs from giant 3-dimensional plantain leaves and  a huge gilded dragon grasps the chandelier in its claws. This cost £5,600 in 1820,and was then lit by gas-a new invention.

The four subsidiary chandeliers are in the form of lotus leaves and hang from mirrored stars. The quality of the lead crystal in these chandeliers is breath taking; rainbows of light beam from the prisms.

The painted clerestory windows, which can be seen either side of the chandelier in the picture below, were so designed that lamps could be placed behind them at night, so that they were not obscured by the darkness, but glowed in the evening light.

Princess Lieven, who was used to the grandeur and splendour of Imperial Russia, was nevertheless  impressed by this room and wrote:

I do not believe that since the days of Heligobalus there has been such magnificence and such luxury

The table is set as if for a dessert course,and the contents are  magnificent

( but my pictures of it sadly are not!)

Next, the Banqueting room Gallery and the first of the costumes in the Dress for Excess exhibition.

(©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 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!

Today BBC Radio 4’s  redoubtable Woman’s Hour programme gave us a tour around Brighton to disocver details of its  past (some of it relating to the Georgian and Regency eras) and some of its  notable women. Louise Hume, a lecturer, devised the walking tour of Brighton for Herstoria magazine.

We visit the grave of Martha Gunn, the famous dipper, depicted below by Robert Deighton

We then visit the Theatre Royal. This is how it looked in 1805:

And the Royal Pavilion, the seaside palace of the Prince Regent, where we visit  the exuberantly beautiful music room  seen below:

The Pavilion was the home of Caroline of Brunswick, shown below, for a while, while her husband the Prince dallied with his mistress, Lady Jersey.

And we visit  Marine Parade, home of Harriette Wilson, the mistress of Lord  Carven,  where we hear of her exploits,

as recorded in her memoirs:

Go here to access the programme which is available to listen again for another 7 days from today.

You can access the revlevant section of th programme approximately 20 minutes in.  As Lydia Bennet wailed in the BBCs 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice,“I Want to Go to Brighton!“(In fact ,I am going there next year!) Enjoy!

Laurel at Austenprose is  conducting a Group Read of Jane Austen’s last, unfinished composition, Sanditon, this week,and I have been honoured to have been asked to provide a few background pieces to compliment the Group Read. This first post is set out below….on the subject of Jane Austen and Seaside Resorts

(Dover circa 1820-please note you can enlarge all these illustrations merely  by clicking on them in order to see the detail)

Jane Austen’s unfinished fragment, Sanditon, is set in a small Sussex seaside resort, a place that is being ruthlessly and relentlessly “improved” by Mr Parker, a man obsessed with his creation and the money-making opportunities it affords:

Mr. Parker`s character and history were soon unfolded. All that he understood of himself, he readily told, for he was very openhearted; and where he might be himself in the dark, his conversation was still giving information to such of the Heywoods as could observe. By such he was perceived to be an enthusiast — on the subject of Sanditon, a complete enthusiast. Sanditon, the success of Sanditon as a small, fashionable bathing place, was the object for which he seemed to live. A very few years ago, it had been a quiet village of no pretensions; but some natural advantages in its position and some accidental circumstances having suggested to himself and the other principal landholder the probability of its becoming a profitable speculation, they had engaged in it, and planned and built, and praised and puffed, and raised it to something of young renown; and Mr. Parker could now think of very little besides…

Sanditon, Chapter 2

(Sussex from John Cary’s Traveller’s Companion or a Delineation of the Turnpike Roads of England and Wales etc.,(1812)..)

Sanditon is also under the patronage of Lady Denham, the wealthy widow of Mr Hollis and a baronet, a social climber though marriage and a woman rather in the mould of  Lady Catherine de Bourgh of Pride and Prejudice,. Here she is described by Mr Parker:

“There is at times,” said he, “a little self-importance — but it is not offensive — and there are moments, there are points, when her love of money is carried greatly too far. But she is a good-natured woman, a very good-natured woman — a very obliging, friendly neighbour; a cheerful, independent, valuable character — and her faults may be entirely imputed to her want of education. She has good natural sense, but quite uncultivated. She has a fine active mind as well as a fine healthy frame for a woman of seventy, and enters into the improvement of Sanditon with a spirit truly admirable. Though now and then, a littleness will appear. She cannot look forward quite as I would have her and takes alarm at a trifling present expense without considering what returns it will make her in a year or two. That is, we think differently. We now and then see things differently, Miss Heywood. Those who tell their own story, you know, must be listened to with caution. When you see us in contact, you will judge for yourself.” Lady Denham was indeed a great lady beyond the common wants of society, for she had many thousands a year to bequeath, and three distinct sets of people to be courted by: her own relations, who might very reasonably wish for her original thirty thousand pounds among them; the legal heirs of Mr. Hollis, who must hope to be more indebted to her sense of justice than he had allowed them to be to his…

Sanditon, Chapter 3

In this satire on developing seaside resorts, commercial greed, hypochondria and the type of people these place attracted, it is perhaps no mere coincidence that Jane Austen ensures that Mr Holllis, the first husband of Lady Denham, shares the name of the man who began the development of Lyme Regis from small fishing village to a seaside resort.

Thomas Hollis (1720-1774) was an interesting character. He was a political propagandist and a radical but also a supporter of the house of Hanover. He was a benefactor, amongst other institutions, of Harvard University and owned an estate of 3000 acres at Corscombe near Beauminster. He kept, however, a suite of rooms in the Three Cups Hotel at Lyme and bought up much of the slums and derelict property in Lyme in order to demolish them and improve the town. He created the first public promenade by purchasing land on the shore to create what Jane Austen would have referred to as The Walk ( it is now part of Marine Parade).He knocked down a series of warehouses to clear a site for the building of Lyme’s Assembly Rooms complex and these were completed in 1775 just after Hollis’s death. These are the Rooms that Jane Austen visited in 1804.

(Lyme Regis from A Guide to all the Watering and Sea-Bathing Places etc (1803)by John Feltham)

The growth of these seaside resorts and the surrounding industry of health tourism from the mid 18th century onwards coincided with the growth but ultimate decline in the inland spas. The pursuit of heath and taking the “cure” -taking the waters-(both mineral and sea) and sea bathing – was perceived as a health benefit and something to be encouraged.

The cessation of hostilities with France in 1815 also added impetus to the habit of visiting towns on the coast : the threat of invasion had been very real, as Jane Austen knew only too well from the experience of her brother Frank Austen at Ramsgate and his service there with the Sea-Fencibles. Kent was especially vulnerable to the threat of invasion due to its closeness to France.

This is a view of the Kent coast facing France at Hythe circa 1820: you can clearly see the rows of Martello towers, defensive towers equipped with cannon and they had been built to defend the Kent coast from invasion: they lined the coast. This daunting prospect had now subsided and the coast could be considered a place of recreation not a means of defence. Resorts proliferated and grew apace as a result

Sea Bathing was promulgated as a serious benefit to a good heath regime from the late 17th century. Though he was by no means the first to do so, Dr Richard Russell, a native of  Lewes in Sussex who practiced medicine in nearby Brighton, was foremost in promoting this development.

From the 1740s, and perhaps even before, Dr Russell was prescribing bathing and even the drinking of sea-water for many ailments, and the popularity of sea-bathing rapidly increased.

Here is a picture of the frontispiece of  the first Irish edition of his influential work, the Dissertation on the Use of Sea Water in the diseases of the Glands particularly the scurvy, Jaundice, Kings-evil, Leprosy and the Glandular Consumption:

The fashion for sea bathing rapidly caught on. Bathing machines –used to preserve the decency of bathers- were first used at Margate and Scarborough (which also had the benefits of  being able to offer spa water to its visitors)

(Rowlandson’s view of the spa -spelt “spaw”- at Scarborough, from Poetical Sketches of Scarborough,1813)

In Sanditon the pompous would-be seducer Sir Edward Denham extols the virtues of sea bathing, quite indelicately, to Charlotte Haywood, the heroine:

To plunge into the refreshing wave and be wrapped round with the liquid element is indeed a most delightful sensation”, he assured them. “But health and pleasure may be equally consulted in these salutary ablutions; and to many a wan countenance can the blush of the rose be restored by an occasional dip in the purifying surge of the ocean. Not, he hastened to add, trying to bow to them both at the same time, “that either of my fair listeners would need the rose restored to their lovely cheeks.”

Jane Austen’s cousin Eliza de Feuillide used sea bathing at Margate in Kent during the winter of 1790 as a desperate attempt to improve the health of her sickly child, Hastings. Sea bathing in the winter was especially recommended for the good of one’s health:

You will find by the date of this I am still the inhabitant of M (Margate-jfw) for  altho’ much pressed to spend by Christmas in Surrey, the inconvenience of removing so numerous a family and the great Benefit Hastings has received and still reaps form Sea bathing made me think it better for us to all to remain where we were and putting off jaunting for another year… I had fixed on going to London the end of this Month, but to shew You how much I am attached to my maternal duties, on being told by one of the faculty whose Skill I have much opinion of that one month’s bathing at this time of the Year was more efficacious than six at any other & that consequently my little Boy would receive the utmost benefit from my prolonging my stay here beyond the time proposed, like a most exemplary parent I resolved on foregoing the fascinating delights of the great City for one month longer … Was not this heroic?

(See Letter from Eliza de Feuillide to Phylly Water dated 7th January 1791)

(Margate from A Guide to all the Watering and Sea-Bathing Places etc 1803)

The fashion for sea-bathing eventually overtook in popularity the fashion for taking the waters at inland spas. In his poem Retirement, written in 1791, William Cowper,  Jane Austen’s favorite poet, commented somewhat sourly on the craze for sea-bathing and the hypochondria it encouraged:

But now alike, gay widow, virgin, wife

Ingenious to diversify dull life

In coaches, chaises, caravans and hoys

Fly to the coast for daily, nightly joys

And impatient of dry land agree

With one consent to rush into the sea

Jane Austen seems to have agreed with him on this as in most things: Mrs Bennet –the malade inaginaire of Meryton- and her pathetic squeal for attention in the guise of taking the  sea cure in Pride and Prejudice that

“A little sea-bathing would set me up for ever.”

echos this.

Though she was careful in Sanditon, in the case of the longed for heiress, Miss Lambe -( as she was in the case of Mrs Smith in Bath  in Persuasion )- not to ridicule those who were truly ill and were bravely putting a good face on their situation be they rich or poor,  Jane Austen obviously had little time for those who were unnecessarily obsessed with their own health, and in Sanditon she presents to us the healthily–built, freakishly heath-obsessed Arthur Palmer as the object of her scorn:

In Miss Lambe, she decided, Arthur had encountered someone quite unique in his experience — a genuine invalid, who despised her own weakness, disliked talking about her symptoms, and overtaxed her strength in her eagerness to lead a normal life whenever she was capable of it. And Arthur, who did not usually spare much thought for anybody’s comfort but his own, had lately been forced into recognising the difference between selfish indulgence and necessary prudence. He wanted Miss Lambe’s sketches of seaweed and she was very willing to execute them; but he had begun to realise that health, which he had always regarded as an excuse for behaving exactly as he liked, could also intervene in one’s pleasures and prevent one from carrying out a favourite scheme, His sisters had always encouraged Arthur to discuss his minor ailments at such length that it astonished him when Miss Lambe denied having a headache, pretended to feel better than she really did and made so few complaints as to seem almost ashamed of her condition.

In Sanditon, Arthur Parke is portrayed mercilessly as a supreme hypochondriac, and a voluble one at that: Jane Austen obviously did not approve. Her poor heroine Charlotte Haywood clearly didn’t either, viewing his “health related” antics with much astonishment:

Arthur was heavy in eye as well as figure but by no means indisposed to talk; and while the other four were chiefly engaged together, he evidently felt it no penance to have a fine young woman next to him, requiring in common politeness some attention; as his brother, who felt the decided want of some motive for action, some powerful object of animation for him, observed with considerable pleasure. Such was the influence of youth and bloom that he began even to make a sort of apology for having a fire. “We should not have had one at home,” said he, “but the sea air is always damp. I am not afraid of anything so much as damp.” “I am so fortunate,” said Charlotte, “as never to know whether the air is damp or dry. It has always some property that is wholesome and invigorating to me.” “I like the air too, as well as anybody can,” replied Arthur. “I am very fond of standing at an open window when there is no wind. But, unluckily, a damp air does not like me. It gives me the rheumatism. You are not rheumatic, I suppose?” “Not at all.” “That’s a great blessing. But perhaps you are nervous?” “No, I believe not. I have no idea that I am.’ “I am very nervous. To say the truth, nerves are the worst part of my complaints in my opinion. My sisters think me bilious, but I doubt it.” “You are quite in the right to doubt it as long as you possibly can, I am sure.” “If I were bilious,” he continued, “you know, wine would disagree with me, but it always does me good. The more wine I drink — in moderation — the better I am. I am always best of an evening. If you had seen me today before dinner, you would have thought me a very poor creature. Charlotte could believe it. She kept her countenance, however, and said, “As far as l can understand what nervous complaints are, I have a great idea of the efficacy of air and exercise for them — daily, regular exercise — and I should recommend rather more of it to you than I suspect you are in the habit of taking.” “Oh, I am very fond of exercise myself,” he replied, “and I mean to walk a great deal while I am here, if the weather is temperate. I shall be out every morning before breakfast and take several turns upon the Terrace, and you will often see me at Trafalgar House.” “But you do not call a walk to Trafalgar House much exercise?” Not as to mere distance, but the hill is so steep! Walking up that hill, in the middle of the day, would throw me into such a perspiration! You would see me all in a bath by the time I got there! l am very subject to perspiration, and there cannot be a surer sign of nervousness.” They were now advancing so deep in physics that Charlotte viewed the entrance of the servant with the tea things as a very fortunate interruption. It produced a great and immediate change. The young man’s attentions were instantly lost. He took his own cocoa from the tray, which seemed provided with almost as many teapots as there were persons in company — Miss Parker drinking one sort of herb tea and Miss Diana another — and turning completely to the fire, sat coddling and cooking it to his own satisfaction and toasting some slices of bread, brought up ready-prepared in the toast rack; and till it was all done, she heard nothing of his voice but the murmuring of a few broken sentences of self-approbation and success…

Referring back to Cowper’s tone in his poem, we can see that it also reflects something of Jane Austen’s ambivalent attitude to these places of “health” and fashion themselves. At the time she was writing Sanditon, she was in the midst of her own critical health problem, and only a few months from death. She had tried taking the waters at Cheltenham, sadly to no avail.  In my view, her clear sighted view of quackery and the cures offered by resorts such as Sandition is obviously influenced by her own experience.

Though she found a certain amount of happiness at Lyme (despite realizing it was not one the first rate places and the people it attracted reflected this) and the small resorts of the West Country, she certainly seems to have violently disliked seaside places which were large and fashionable. She seems especially to have regarded the resorts that were associated with certain members of the Royal Family as places to be avoided at all costs for the moral good of her characters. Worthing, thought to be Jane Austen’s inspiration and model for Sanditon, was patronized by Princess Amelia , fifteenth child of George III and the Prince of Wales’s sister. Brighton-the then centre of the fashionable British world- she appears to have detested as much she did its royal patron, The Prince of Wales.

(The Prince of Wales’s Marine Pavilion from The Beauties of England and Wales; or, Delineations, Topographical, Historical and Descriptive of Each County Embellished With Engravings : Sussex (1813) by Edward Wedlake Brayley and John Britton.)

Brighton is, of course, the scene of Lydia Bennet’s downfall in Pride and Prejudice, and her Lady Lesley in Lesley Castle goes there specifically because it is one of her

favourite haunts of Dissipation

Weymouth too she disliked :

Weymouth is altogether a shocking place I perceive without recommendation of any kind and worthy only of being frequented by the inhabitants of Gloucester…

(See Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 14th September 1804)

(Weymouth from The Guide to all the Watering and Sea-Bathing Places (1803) by John Feltham)

And of course it was at Weymouth that Jane Fairfax met Frank Churchill in Emma; while there, under its unsteadying influence no doubt, this moral, sensible and intelligent woman consented to a secret engagement that was very nearly her undoing.

Even small time and comparatively retired places like Ramsgate in Kent

(Ramsgate from A Guide to all the Watering and Sea-Bathing Places etc (1816) by John Feltham)

could be deceptively dangerous places in Jane Austen’s world. For it was at Ramsgate that Wickham nearly succeeded in eloping with the young and trusting Georgiana Darcy.

I suspect that it was the character of the people that these places attracted that truly irked Jane Austen, rather than the places themselves. And that disdain was not only reserved for hypochondriacs and the scoundrels on the make, but was also felt by her for those would exploit The Company– ill or only perceived to be ill-  for purely mercantile reasons. The development of these coastal towns was also seen by many entrepreneurs as a sound commercial opportunity not to be missed: a situation exploited by the keen eye of Jane Austen in Sanditon.

In Sandition Mr Parker knows that in addition to the usual amusements of sea-bathing, circulating libraries filled with tempting goods for  rich patrons to buy etc., he has to attract rich patrons  so that others will flock to his resort, drawn by the  glamour of possibly being able to associate with such people. Lady Denham is also acutely aware that the success of their resort depends largely upon the quality of The Company there:

And if we could but get a young heiress to Sanditon! But heiresses are monstrous scarce! I do not think we have had an heiress here — or even so since Sanditon has been a public place. Families come after families but, as far as I can learn, it is not one in a hundred of them that have any real property, landed or funded. An income perhaps, but no property. Clergymen maybe, or lawyers from town, or half-pay officers, or widows with only a jointure. And what good can such people do anybody? Except just as they take our empty houses and, between ourselves, I think they are great fools for not staying at home. Now if we could get a young heiress to be sent here for her health — and if she was ordered to drink asses’ milk I could supply her — and, as soon as she got well, have her fall in love with Sir Edward!”

The people who patronized these seaside places were indeed, at first, from the very highest echelons of society, but as the 18th century wore on and the 19th century began, and as  Lady Denham disappointedly noted,  members of the middling sort- families of the professional and mercantile classes- were very much to the fore. (Note the working classes and the poor were not part of this scene until the growth of the railway system and the development in the provision of the concept of paid holidays for workers in the mid to late 19th century).

In Sandition we are given a glimpse of exactly the sort of Company a small and yet-to-become-fashionable resort attracted. How sad it is for us that illness prevented Jane Austen from continuing and completing this fascinating fragment: for it might have thrown even more light on her attitudes to seaside resorts and the people who inhabited them for health or other reasons. Like Charlotte Heywood’s thoughts on Sir Edward Denham

The future might explain him further.

Jane Austen’s sadly shortened future did not allow enough time for her to explain Sanditon fully to us.


I do hope this short introduction has given you a little of the background to the fragment which will enable you to continue to enjoy Laurel’s Group Read.

Next at AustenOnly, a post about Samphire, the now trendy  plant that was lauded by Sir Edward Denham.

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