Archive | October 2019

The Regency Grand Tour


The Grand Tour was the custom of a traditional trip of Europe undertaken by upper class young when they came of age. (21) European gentlemen of sufficient means and rank would take a close family member with them to act as a chaperone. To ensure they suffered no hardship, they would often take their own Valet, Coachman and even a cook with them.

This custom first started around 1660 and continued until approximately the 1840s. Considered a rite of passage for all wealthy young men, the Grand Tour was initially undertaken to enhance their education and improve their language skills.

With nearly unlimited funds, aristocratic connections and no real desire to work, many a young gentleman stayed away from home, touring France, Italy and occasionally Greece for months or even years. Though the main cities to visit were in Italy, being Venice, Rome, Naples and Pompeii.

They would often commission paintings, buy marbles, coins and medals on their travels and have them shipped back home.

The primary value of the Grand Tour lay in its exposure to the cultural legacy, along with the opportunity to forge important connections, (which we know was most desirable in the Regency era) with the aristocratic and fashionably polite society of Europe. In addition, it often provided the only opportunity to view specific works of art, and possibly the only chance to hear certain music. To ensure they did not miss anything of worth, they commonly hired a Cicerone, a knowledgeable guide or tutor.

A popular book, An Account of Some of the Statues, Bas-Reliefs, Drawings, and Pictures in Italy published in 1722 by Jonathan Richardson and his son did much to popularize these trips.


The legacy of the Grand Tour lives on to the modern-day, still influencing the destinations that tourists choose to visit today.

Regency Design at its Best: Brighton Pavilion

The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, also known as the Royal Palace of Brighton, and later as Brighton Pavilion, was built as a seaside retreat in 1787 for the then Prince of Wales, the future Prince Regent, (1811-1820) and George IV.1820-1830

It was built in three stages and work was not completed on it until 1823. It was built in the Indo-Saracenic style, prevalent in India at the time.

The Prince of Wales first went Brighton ages 21 in 1783 on a visit to see his uncle, Prince Henry, The Duke of Cumberland. Prince George, who suffered from gout due to his opulent lifestyle, was advised by his physician that living near to the sea, and taking the waters, would improve this painful condition. Unfortunately, his excessive eating, drinking, gambling, and womanising only increased when he was away from the London courtiers who tried to curb his excesses.

Indeed, he often took his mistress, Maria Fitzherbert to stay with him. He is reported to have married Maria in a secret ceremony but it was deemed not valid as she was a catholic.

Initially, Henry Holland, (he designed Carlton House in London for the prince) was commissioned to extend a house, adding a breakfast room, a dining room and a library.


Then, in 1801-2, it was extended again, adding a new, larger dining room and an extensive conservatory, all constructed and decorated in the Neo-classical style.

At this time, the Prince Regent also purchased land surrounding the property. During 1803-1808 a grand riding school and stables were built in the Indian style. Designed by William Porden, these stables could accommodate 60 horses.

By now, the Royal Palace dwarfed the Marine Pavilion, the other major building in Brighton.
It was extended for the final time in 1815-1822 by the then famous architect John Nash. He added the distinctive domes and minarets that giving it the Taj Mahal look we can still see today.

Unique for its Indo-Saracenic exterior, it does not disappoint on its interior decoration.


The fanciful interior, primarily designed by Fredrick Crace, was aided by a little-known decorative painter, Robert Jones. Jones was heavily influenced by both Chinese and Indian fashions, and this is reflected by him turning away from the mainstream taste of the Neo-classical designs prominent in the Regency era.

Sadly, The Prince Regent, who was by now King George IV, only had seven years in which to enjoy the finished building, dying in 1830 aged 68.