The Royal Pavilion is an exotic palace in the centre of Brighton with a colourful history. Built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV, this historic house mixes Regency grandeur with the visual style of India and China.
For 200 years, John Nash’s extraordinary oriental fantasy, the Royal Pavilion, has been inextricably linked with the identity of Brighton. It has provoked controversy, inspired fervent adulation and, throughout its colourful history, become one of the most instantly identifiable architectural images in the world.
It takes its unique character from the man for whom it was built, George IV, and its magnificent interior is a reflection of his personality and the arts of Regency England. It was conceived as a monument to style, finesse, technological excellence and above all pleasure. It remains unequalled in its colossal ambition and glorious sense of joie de vivre.
In 1815 George, by now Prince Regent, hired the eminent architect John Nash, to redesign the building, at that time a modest 18th century lodging house in the Indian style. The work was completed in 1823 by which time George had become King. It is this building, an instantly recognisable symbol of Brighton, which we see today.
George was a cultured and well-educated man, enthusiastic about the visual arts, music and architecture. He loved chinoiserie – the decorative style inspired by China. George enjoyed entertaining and surrounded himself with courtiers and fashionable society guests. At the Royal Pavilion he hosted gastronomic feasts in the Banqueting Room, and balls and concerts in the Music Room.
It is these flamboyant, artistic tastes, combined with George IV’s desire to impress, that are evident throughout the Royal Pavilion. The palace became in itself a complete work of art, furnished with exquisite French, English and Chinese export furniture and objects, and adorned with gilded dragons, carved palm trees and imitation bamboo staircases.
The Royal Pavilion has two floors, the ground floor is accessible to wheelchair users, but access to the first floor is via a staircase only. There is an accessible toilet on the ground floor, and wheelchairs are available to use on request. On the ground floor there is an audio-visual room with a video presentation about all aspects of the Royal Pavilion. Audio tours are available with British Sign Language and also for visitors with a visual impairment.