Royal Pavilion

Known in 1787 as Brighton House

Reproduced with permission from the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder, 1990

Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990.  As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.

a) THE ORIGINAL MARINE PAVILION: During his first visits to the town in 1783 and 1784 the Prince of Wales stayed at Grove House, a large residence erected on the northern part of the Steine in the previous decade and rented by his uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, from George Wyndham. In 1786 the house was rented by the Duke of Marlborough following the sale of his other Steine house, however, and he purchased it outright in 1790; the Prince of Wales therefore probably spent the 1786 season nearby at Thomas Kemp 's farmhouse.
By October 1786 the Prince of Wales was looking for a permanent Brighton residence and had his Clerk of the Kitchen, Louis Weltje, acquire a lease to Kemp's farmhouse; Henry Holland was then employed to build a new marine house on the site in April to June 1787. Known initially as Brighton House, the Prince's Marine Pavilion was a classical two-storey villa in the shape of a letter 'E', timber-framed and faced with cream-coloured mathematical tiles . A domed saloon with six Ionic columns stood at the centre with bowed wings either side, while an Ionic portico provided the entrance on the western side. The interior decoration was in a brilliant French style.
Several men were killed while working on the domed roof, but the house was completed at the end of June 1787. The Prince took possession on 6 July 1787, but Weltje, who bought the house and grounds from Kemp in November 1787 for £5,850, charged the Prince an annual rent of £1,000 and had a house built for himself between the south-western corner and the Prince's stables. The Prince eventually purchased the Pavilion for £17,000 from Weltje's trustees in September 1807.
By 1801 the Prince was considering alterations to the house. Holland drew up a new oriental plan, but it was his nephew, P.F.Robertson, who was commissioned to add two new oval-shaped wings in 1801-2 at right-angles to the eastern facade. In 1802 also, the Prince was presented with some rolls of Chinese wallpaper which were subsequently hung in the gallery. So taken by them was the Prince that he had the whole interior redecorated in Chinese style by John Crase and Sons, and he also had plans for new Chinese-style exteriors drawn up by William Porden in 1805 and Humphrey Repton in 1806-7; neither was taken up, however. Construction of the stables ( the 'Dome' , q.v.) commenced in 1803, and in 1805 the grounds were laid out by Messrs Lapidge and Hooper, but few other additions or improvements were made to the Marine Pavilion in the years from 1806 until 1814.

Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.

Photo:Brighton Race Course, 1805: Painting showing the race course on the Steine with the original Royal Pavilion in the background. Featured in the picture are important local people of the time, including George, Prince of Wales, on horse back.

Brighton Race Course, 1805: Painting showing the race course on the Steine with the original Royal Pavilion in the background. Featured in the picture are important local people of the time, including George, Prince of Wales, on horse back.

Image reproduced with kind permission from Brighton and Hove in Pictures by Brighton and Hove City Council

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