The Brighton Dome is an iconic piece of architecture in Brighton’s city centre and a great arts venue, so why should we know so little about it? We’re back to present you with ten things you (probably) didn’t know about this top tourist attraction…
1. The Concert Hall Used To Be Stables
What now plays host to international superstars of the music scene, was once a mere stable for horses. The now-concert hall was built to act as Prince Regent’s stables and held 44 horses in a circular stable arrangement, with space for the groomsmen on a balcony level above. Apparently the stables were based on the Halle au Ble (Corn Market) in Paris, which was built in 1782. In the centre of the stables was a large lotus-shaped fountain, used to water the horses.
2. The Building Got Its Name From Its Shape
In case you couldn’t guess it, Brighton Dome got its name from its dome-shaped roof. The central cupola, 80 feet in diameter and 65 feet in height, gave the building the name we now know it as. Bonus fact: It was a challenging piece of construction to take on and many people thought that the glass dome would collapse once the scaffolding was removed!
3. There Were Many Different Plans For The Concert Hall
After Queen Victoria sold the grounds to the town in 1850 for £50,000, there were many suggestions for what the concert hall could be used for. Some of these ideas included a law court or even a swimming bath, however the vote to turn the space into assembly rooms was passed by a slim majority.
4. The New Assembly Rooms Were #Lit
Upon the redecoration of the new assembly rooms, new lights were added. The space had over 520 gas-powered jets, with the main chandelier being accompanied by eight smaller ones which hung under the balcony around the room. However, with over 520 gas jets the chandelier was very expensive to light (as you can imagine). In 1888 the central chandelier was taken down, it’s thought due of the expensive running costs; however customers reported the room was then too dim and so parts of the chandelier were rehung.
5. The Concert Hall Is One Of Few Buildings To Have Listed Interior And Exterior
Due to its magnificent design, both inside and out, the concert hall is one of the only buildings to have a listed interior and exterior. Its Indian-style exterior and 1930s Art Deco interior may be contrasting, but they sure are impressive.
6. The Corn Exchange Used To Be A Riding School
Previously the Prince Regent’s riding school, we now know that building as the Corn Exchange. On 1st October 1868, the riding school officially became known as the town’s Corn Exchange. Bonus fact: Between 1856 and 1864, the stables and the riding school were lent as cavalry barracks!
7. The Dome Was A First World War Hospital
Like the Royal Pavilion, the Dome too was used to house Indian soldiers during the first world war. Apparently at the time, it was thought that Indian soldiers might feel more at home in that setting, due to the Indian-inspired exterior. Between 1st December 1914 and 15 Februrary 1916 over 4,000 wounded soldiers were nursed back to health at the makeshift hospitals set up within the Dome and Pavilion. Three operating theatres were installed on the estate, with one located in the Dome itself.
8. The India Gate Was A Gift To Foreign Soldiers
The India Gate, located on the south side of the Pavilion gardens was a gift to the people of India. It was completed in 1921 and was a sign of gratitude, erected to commemorate their fallen soldiers.
9. The Dome’s Organ Is One Of Its Main Attractions
One of the most iconic features in Brighton’s Dome is its impressive organ. The first pipe organ to feature in the Dome’s Concert Hall was built in 1870, with several re-installations and adjustments being made since. In 1935 a tailor made, dual organ was put in to replace the previous one, which still stands in the Concert Hall today. The famous organ is still in use today and even features special effects stops such as: orchestral bells, marimba, harp, bird whistles and sleigh bells.
10. There’s A Burial Site Underneath It
If you’ve been paying attention to local news recently, you’ll have seen that a burial site has been discovered underneath Brighton’s famous Corn Exchange. Shockingly, a 200 year old burial site was discovered while redevelopment work was taking place. Originally just one skeleton was found, however more and more graves were slowly uncovered. It is thought that the bodies come from a Quaker burial ground that existed prior to the Pavilion’s erection.