A stately pleasure-dome
Or Agra. Or Lahore. No, Bank Holiday weekend saw us in sunny Brighton (which is “So Bracing” in April), stupefied by the Royal Pavilion above.
Once just a farmhouse, this extravagant pleasure palace was cooked up by King George IV when he was Prince Regent. The Glass of Fashion Bluffer’s Guide to George follows below.
Georgie Porgie (or “Prinny”) was:
a) the son of “mad” King George III, which meant that he had quite a bit of power as Regent to make decisions in the King’s stead;
b) best pals with legendary regency style guru Beau Brummell until things turned ugly;
c) a bit of a sartorial trend setter himself with rather an interesting sense of personal style;
d) so rotund by later life owing to over-indulgence in just about anything that was worth over-indulging in that he was lampooned as the Prince of Whales.
George’s extravagant taste for the exotic, exuberant sense of colour and, er, “artistic temperament” are stamped all over the Pavilion’s interior. This is one of the few buildings that I have seen that actually had my eyes rolling around in my head and mouth hanging open (the only other than springs to mind off the top of my head is Hearst Castle in California). Walking into the Pavilion’s Banqueting Hall (above) was a major physical shock to the system- it was so thoroughly over-exciting I actually felt my pulse race. Funnily enough, this room provides an insight into George that no amount of history books can. The room was so imbued with George’s personality that one could imagine him there, sitting in the very centre of the long table, the dragon chandeliers roaring fire overhead, the favoured mistress of the moment on one side, his close friend Beau Brummell on the other, vastly amused with his guests’ awe at the general splendour….
It was a major “aw, shucks” moment when we discovered photography was verboten in the pavilion. So the banqueting hall image is a painting by the Pavilion’s architect John Nash (from Views of the Royal Pavilion, 1826). And the pic of the Long Gallery directly above is via www.asianartnewspaper.com. Despite the Indian exterior, the Pavilion’s interior is a splendid and riotous example of “chinoiserie”, executed by artisans who had probably never been to China but borrowed greedily from its motifs. Dragons and snakes are everywhere….
We’ll be spending this week on the blog in Brighton- there’s more to come. And some of it even involves costume…