Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Royal Pavilion, Brighton

The Royal Pavilion in Brighton is a famous landmark in England, with its onion-shaped domes and its minarets, but it started life very simply as a farm house. It was transformed by Prince George (right) in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries into the fabulous building it is today.

We're going to be looking at its transformation here on the blog over the next few weeks.

In 1786, the Prince's factotum leased a farmhouse for the Prince's use (left).

At the time it had flintwork walls, but when the Prince added to the farmhouse the whole building was covered in cream-glazed Hampshire tiles. This gave a sense of unity to the building.

A rotunda was added and then, to balance the original farmhouse, another wing on the other side of the rotunda. When the building work was complete by the following year, the pavilion looked like this:
Notice that the windows on the ground floor are taller than the windows on the first floor because the rooms on the ground floor have higher ceilings, befitting their use as reception rooms.

In 1803, a new stable block was begun, probably because the Prince needed to keep racehorses at the pavilion, and it was built in the Indian style. It provoked a great deal of praise, with Humphrey Repton calling it a 'stupendous and magnificent building, which by its lightness, its elegance, its boldness of construction, and the symmetry of its proportions, does credit both to the genius of the Artist, and the good taste of his Royal Employer.'

The stable block was completed in 1808, after numerous delays caused by a lack of funds. Its final cost was about £55,000 which is equivalent to about two and a half million pounds, or five million dollars, in today's terms.

When the pavilion was again enlarged after 1815, it was built in the Indian style to complement the stables. You can still see the shape of the original building beneath the exotic exterior, but it's come a long way from its humble beginnings!

No comments: