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Statutory Address:
Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

The City of Brighton and Hove (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
TQ 31273 04188


TQ 3104 SW, 577-1/40/4

BRIGHTON, OLD STEINE, The Royal Pavilion



Includes: The Royal Pavilion PAVILION BUILDINGS. Royal Pavilion, formerly farmhouse. Built for the Prince of Wales (1762-1830). 4 distinct building campaigns: a double-fronted farmhouse from the 1770s which the Prince's architect, Henry Holland, added to in 1787-88, refacing it in cream-coloured mathematical tile; third phase, involving primarily interior works, of 1801-08, when William Porden assumed control of the works; fabric largely untouched during this period, Porden's work consisting of additions to the subsidiary buildings, the Stables and Riding School, now the Corn Exchange and Dome Theatre, Church Street (qv). The final phase began in February of 1811 under the architect James Wyatt. Between 1814 and 1823, Nash gave the building the appearance which it has today. Periodic restorations from the mid C19 to the late C20. MATERIALS: stucco, scored to imitate ashlar; Bath stone and Portland stone dressings, recently renewed; the tent roofs and onion domes were originally surfaced with a patent mastic and painted to resemble Bath stone; the mastic failed in 1827 and was replaced by copper sheathing; various other roofs of slate. EXTERIOR: East Front: composed of 5 distinct parts, symmetrically arranged around the 7-bay colonnade of the rotunda; 3 French doors, each with pointed, trilobed heads and glazing bars of original design, open into the saloon; these window heads, inspired by Mughal architecture, are repeated throughout the fabric; columns in Bath stone have an octagonal socle, leafy base, octagonal shaft, and flaring, leaf capitals which terminate above the diamond crenellated parapet in octagonal pinnacles. The design of these columns repeated throughout the fabric, applied in many instances to pilasters. Between the tops of each pair of the rotunda columns is a screen of pierced quatrefoils arranged in intersecting S-curves which are formed from the lines of the horseshoe arches; above the centre bay of the colonnade in the parapet are the arms of the King and an inscription: "HRH George IV MDCCLXXXIV". The domed superstructure over the saloon is supported by an internal cast- and wrought-iron frame designed by Nash. Transition to the dome by a convex, feathered ring, topped by a fluted ring, in turn topped by a parapet; ribbed onion dome above, with reticulated lights, culminating in a high finial. On each corner of the dome is a minaret, supported by an octagonal leaf column as below, and rising from square, crenellated turrets. The range of decorative elements found in this centre section are repeated on all elevations. At the far ends of the east elevation are cubic pavilions with high tent roofs: the Music Room to the north and the Banqueting Room to the south; in front of each is a 6-bay colonnade, identical in design to the saloon colonnade; French doors with Mughal-styled heads; clerestory below roof in each face is a horizontal strip window with lattice glazing bars; broad bracketed eaves below a crenellated parapet which encircles the base of the tent roof; at each corner of these pavilions stands a minaret on an octagonal leaf column. The ranges between the central saloon and the end pavilions have a 7-window range each and 2 storeys; on the ground floor the area between the pair of full-height bays is incorporated within a stone projection of 5 French doors; one octagonal pilaster between each pair of doors, at corner and returns; above each pilaster a panelled pier topped by an obelisk; the balustrade pierced by Gothic quatrefoil panels. Lotus-leaf parapet continuous across the elevation; there is an onion dome above each bay. To the north, the elevation returns briefly before stopping at a 2-and-a-half-storey corner pavilion, square in plan, similar to those found on the King's Apartments. Nash's exotic overlay comes to an abrupt end to the south: at join with kitchen wing a single-storey porch in a Mughal style abutting a purely Greek Revival elevation. The latter has a 7-window range; 2 sections of the original tripartite temple facade remain: the former centre with 8 paired, giant Tuscan pilasters forming 3 broad bays topped by a pediment; single pilasters mark 4 left-hand bays; roof parapeted, stacks to rear and right of pediment; over door in centre of pediment, sculpted Royal Arms; sashes of an original design; the cast-iron railings attached to this elevation enclose the south border of the east lawn; similar railings to area at the foot of the north return. West Front: entrance under a porte-cochere, square in plan, topped by an onion dome and supported at each corner by 3 octagonal leaf columns; bulbous finials and minarets above eaves. Behind, a single-storey octagonal porch with semicircular projection; all French doors and windows on the ground floor have flattened horseshoe arches. The centre range rises to 3 storeys, with a bracketed eaves roof below a horizontal strip window with lattice glazing bars; minarets at corners of clerestory and clustered flue to returns; another stack to rear of saloon dome with S-curved flying buttresses; oval, crenellated Gothic turrets flank the dome. Single-storey crenellated wings run from centre axis to returns of wings, setting back to form a first-floor balcony reached by flat-arched French doors; the bays in the single-storey ranges marked by attached leaf columns; 5-window range. Each 2-and-a-half-storey courtyard wing topped by an onion dome; wings with full-height, octagonal leaf pilasters, continuing above parapet to minarets of stone; the top storeys of the wings lit by horizontal strip window with lattice glazing bars. To the right of the courtyard, the Mughal-inspired design ends abruptly; the kitchen wing has 2 storeys, and a 2-window range with flat-arched windows and cornice to guttered eaves. To the north, or left of the courtyard are the King's Apartments, which run between the north pavilion of the courtyard to an identical pavilion on the north corner; 9-window range, with a 7-window range recessed behind the front walls of the pavilions; stone verandah fills this section, 8 leaf columns, the roof forming a balcony. The first-floor windows in the corner pavilions are each set in an elaborate stone aedicule. The north return has a 7-window range, with end pavilions similar to those already described, but flush with the intermediate range wall; 5-bay stone verandah projects from this wall and spans basement area. There are stacks with gathered flues symmetrically disposed across the roof; each flue is topped by a minaret-like chimney pot. At the time of writing (May 1992), an extensive programme of exterior restoration had just been completed; much of the stonework had been renewed and the stucco repainted to resemble Bath stone. INTERIOR: for the most part the interior decoration was carried out by Frederick Crace and his collaborator, Robert Jones. The Outer Entrance Hall has a shallow saucer dome supported by broad, ribbed coving. The transition to the Inner Entrance Hall through an apse-like recess opening onto the Entrance Hall which is square in plan; clerestory with painted glass fills above recess, the lintel below supported by a pair of octagonal leaf columns; scalloped drip moulding decorated with palm leaves forms a continuous cornice to the walls; marble chimneypiece is the only one to survive in situ and was carved by Richard Westmacott. To the east, the Chinese Gallery, of 7 bays, connecting all rooms along the ground floor and dating to 1815; at either end a cast-iron, U-plan stair designed and painted to resemble bamboo. Cast-iron skylights to centre bay and above each stair. Bays 3 and 5 open onto rectangular recesses which form baffle entrances to the North and South Drawing Rooms. Access to the Banqueting Room and Music Room through flat-arched opening in the centre of each flight of stairs in the Chinese Gallery. Banqueting and Music Rooms have identical plans: square, with rectangular recesses to north and south, the ceiling between the recess and the entablature (which forms the base to flattened basket arches supporting the saucer dome) are convex coves, imitating hung fabric and bamboo. Banqueting Room: great chandelier lit by gas in 1821, suspended by a Chinese dragon carved in wood, above which are plantain leaves, which hid the original gas registers. The decoration of the lower walls with "orientalising" scenes and motifs carried out by Robert Jones. Concave canopy over each door. Each French door to the east verandah set in a recess. Stone chimneypieces of mid C19 in the north and south walls. Cornice around the room consists of trilobed valence and acanthus parapet. Tympanum of each basket arch filled with clerestory window of painted glass. Rectangular serving room to the south with marble chimneypiece is lit by an oval skylight; cupboard room to the west. Further to the south is the kitchen, with 4 iron columns cast to resemble bamboo shafts topped by palm leaves; original kitchen features in situ; interior completed in 1816. The South Drawing Room reached through a door in the north-east corner of the Banqueting Room: rectangular in plan, with bay to east, the latter having quadrant corners. This room marks the extent of the entire ground floor of the original house on the site; on the line of its outer wall, removed for the broad bay with French doors, are 2 palm tree columns. This single room formed in 1801; a Crace decorative scheme of 1815 replaced by the current scheme in 1821. The only features to survive from 1815 are the white marble chimneypieces in the west wall, flanking a shallow, flat-arched recess. Flat-arched door leads to Holland's saloon, entered by semicircular pilastered niches to the north and south; shallow saucer dome; scheme dates to 1821-23. The North Drawing Room is identical in plan to the South Drawing Room, and was formed in 1802 as the Eating Room and Library; current scheme dates to 1821. The Music Room: painted organ case in north recess; painted canvas stretched on walls, completed 1817-1822/3 by Jones. To the west are the King's Apartments, a suite of 3 rooms connected by wide double doors and completed in 1821-22; all rooms rectangular in plan, with recess for State Bed, coved recesses and round-arched niches. North Gallery on the first floor created in 1815, toplit, once gave access to the principal bedrooms and was decorated in the Chinese style; now plain, it is called the North Lobby. Queen Victoria's bedroom and related apartments above the entrance range are under restoration. Between 1825 and his death George IV visited the Pavilion only once. Queen Victoria stayed often between 1837 and 1845. She announced the sale of the Pavilion to pay for works to Buckingham Palace in 1846. A local committee was formed to purchase the Pavilion for the Borough, which transfer was approved in 1850. The Royal Chapel and buildings to the south were then demolished and the land sold. Put to various municipal uses. As early as 1863 there were attempts to acquire furniture sold by the Queen in the late 1840s. All of main rooms now open to the public with the exception of the Red Drawing Room. For a complete description and history of the fabric, see Dinkel, 1983. HISTORICAL NOTE: the Prince of Wales first came to Brighton in 1783, staying with his uncle, the Duke of Cumberland in Grove House, a brick building which stood on the site of the present Music Room. In 1786, one year after his secret marriage to Mrs Fitzherbert, the Prince took the lease on a farmhouse built in the 1770s and owned by Thomas Kemp; this structure -- a double-fronted building of 2 storeys and 3-window range, with 2 full-height canted bays to Old Steine -- can still be seen through later alterations, in the south range of the present east front. The second phase of the building began in the summer of 1787, when the Prince instructed Henry Holland, his architect for the grand works at Carlton House, to enlarge the premises. Holland duplicated the 2-bayed farmhouse to the north, connecting the 2 sections by the Saloon, a domed rotunda with a circular colonnade; at the rear he constructed a long corridor, which would later form the basis for the current Chinese Gallery of 1815 and 1822. The saloon, with shallow domed ceiling, is extant, though overlaid by Nash's Mughal-inspired decoration. Holland also converted the canted bays of the farmhouse into segmental ones. To the rear, or west elevation Holland built 2 projecting wings, each pedimented; on axis with the rotunda he constructed a tetrastyle portico in the Ionic order with a pediment above. The rough outline of this U-shaped courtyard can still be seen under Nash's additions. The Prince and Holland planned to erect a wing to the south, similar to that on the north and containing the King's apartments; this was never completed. At the end of Holland's works in 1788, the structure was named the "Marine Pavilion". Absent from Brighton between 1796 and 1800, the Prince commissioned no new works until July of 1801, when Holland proposed to sheath his earlier works in Chinese ornament; only interior decorations in this manner were carried out, being completed in 1804. Between 1801 and 1804 the firm of Crace was first employed on the interior decoration. There are no architectural remains of the first "oriental" phase. Holland also added 2 new wings to the east elevation; these projecting at obtuse angles towards the Steine; although replaced by the Music and Banqueting rooms, these rooms would mark the furthest extent of the east elevation. In 1803 Porden replaced Holland and made plans to continue the "exoticisation" of the exterior. In 1805 Humphry Repton was called in to landscape the grounds. The idea for redesigning the Marine Pavilion as an Indian palace can be dated to the years 1803-05, during the Porden-Repton collaboration. The final phase of the building commenced when the Prince was made Regent in February of 1811. Nothing is known of the plans made by James Wyatt, nor does any trace of Nash's work between 1813-15 survive. The first work of what would prove to be the final scheme was the expansion of Holland's west corridor into the long Chinese Gallery, beginning in January of 1815 and completed before the end of the year along with the Inner Entrance Hall. The 2 bedroom storeys above the Entrance Hall were added before 1819. In the years between 1815 and 1820, the west courtyard was partly filled in with service rooms and stairs. The kitchen wing to the south was completed next, between 1816 and 1818. In 1817, Holland's angled bays were replaced by the box-like pavilions containing the Music and Banqueting Rooms. During the following summer Nash erected the great onion dome which dominates the east elevation and is flanked, to the west, by a pair of crenellated, oval towers. In 1819 the Bath stone window tracery and leaf columns were added, and by the end of the year, the east front assumed the appearance which it has today. In the same year, Holland's portico on the west elevation was replaced by the domed porte-cochere with octagonal vestibule, or Outer Entrance Hall, behind. Nash then constructed the pavilioned King's Apartments, incorporating Holland's north courtyard wing; this and the stone verandah on the west elevation were completed by the close of 1820. When the newly crowned George IV took up residence in the now Royal Pavilion on 2 January of 1821, only the decoration of his apartments and the Red Drawing Room (not open for inspection at the time of writing) remained to be done. All was completed by the summer of 1823. (The Royal Pavilion - Brighton: Dinkel J: LONDON: 1983-).

Listing NGR: TQ3127304188


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Books and journals
Dinkel, J, The Royal Pavilion, Brighton, (1983)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

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Date: 01 Oct 2004
Reference: IOE01/13312/18
Rights: Copyright IoE Norman Wigg. Source Historic England Archive
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