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.





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