8 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About…The Royal Pavilion!

Image via The Georgian Group

The Royal Pavilion is the crown jewel in Brighton’s architectural crown, making it a staple in our city’s culture. But how much do you know about the iconic building?

Image via David Burgess

Image via David Burgess

1. It Was King George IV’s Pleasure Palace

George IV is often seen as one of Britain’s most interesting monarchs due to his indulgent youth and decadent lifestyle. After suffering from ill health he was advised to take to Brighton, (must be something in the fresh sea air…), so he purchased a lodging house in the newly-named “London by sea”. Once he’d worked out the minor issue of his large debts, he worked with an architect to transform his modest accommodation into a beautiful villa, the Marine Pavilion.

Image via brightonmuseums.org.uk

Image via brightonmuseums.org.uk

2. It’s Served As Many Things

After King George IV was no more, the Royal Pavilion went on to serve many other purposes including a civic building and First World War hospital. Due to the use of it as a hospital for Indian soldiers the interiors were altered, damaged and often, neglected.

Image via David Burgess

Image via David Burgess

3. George IV Helped Brighton Prosper

George IV may have been an extravagant man, but his drive to make the Royal Pavilion the decadent work of art it is today helped Brighton to prosper. His presence had an enormous impact on prosperity and social development from the 1780s. Thanks to George and his marvelous palace we saw the population of Brighton grow from just 3,620 inhabitants in 1786 to 40,643 in 1831.

Image via Visit Brighton

Image via Visit Brighton

4. Rebuilding The Pavilion Provided Jobs For Local People

Due to the additional construction of George’s pavilion palace, more workers were needed, providing townspeople with jobs from tradesmen to labourers to craftsmen. George’s popularity certainly helped too – The presence of the court, George’s guests, members of society and George’s household provided much needed business for local builders and the service industries.

Image via Day and Haghe

Image via Day and Haghe

5. Young Queen Victoria Sold The Pavilion Palace

Queen Victoria made her first visit to Brighton in 1837, thrilling the people of Brighton in the process. However her elder (more extravagant) uncle’s pleasure palace just wasn’t for her and made her feel uncomfortable. Eventually she decided the pavilion was just not big enough for her and her expanding family, selling the palace for over £50,000 in 1850 to the town of Brighton. Thinking that it would be demolished, she ordered the interiors to be stripped of all furnishings for use in future royal homes. This decision was pivotal in the town’s tourism trade, changing it from a private venue to public. Now the Royal Pavilion sees 400,000 visitors annually!

Image via Thomas Lawrence

Image via Thomas Lawrence

6. Political Opponents To George IV Viewed The Pavilion As An Abuse Of Power

George IV’s rivals viewed the Royal Pavilion as an abuse of power, a waste of public funds and a social injustice. Despite this, the previous palace has brought tourism, trade and prosperity to Brighton and continues to do so to this day. Many Brightonians view the iconic architectural marvel as a testament to the extravagant prince and his lavish tastes.

Image via Lisa Devlin (devlinphotos.co.uk)

Image via Lisa Devlin (devlinphotos.co.uk)

7. It Hosted One Of The First Legal Same Sex Marriages In The UK

As a licensed venue for weddings,  you might imagine that the Royal Pavilion is a particularly popular spot. On 29th March 2014, the Royal Pavilion made history in playing host to one of the first same sex marriage ceremonies to be legal in the UK after the 2013 Same Sex Couples Act was passed.

Image via Royal Pavilion

Image via Royal Pavilion

8. It Turns Into An Ice Rink Every Winter

Okay, if you’re from Brighton you probably know this, but every winter the Royal Pavilion gardens are transformed into a winter wonderland equipped with ice rink, mulled wine and all the rest. What could be better than gliding around in the shadow a local architectural marvel?

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