Royal Pavilion

Transformation begins in 1815

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.

b) TRANSFORMATION OF THE MARINE PAVILION: On his elevation to the Regency in 1811 however, the Prince of Wales determined to have a palace at Brighton befitting his new status, and an estimate of £200,000 was made by the Surveyor-General, James Wyatt. Wyatt died in 1813 though, and so the Prince Regent employed architect John Nash to transform his Marine Pavilion into a new royal palace in Bath stone and stuccoed brick , the Royal Pavilion.
In 1812 Grove House was purchased by the Prince Regent and a connection was made to the Marine Pavilion, but the main alterations commenced in March 1815 with the remodelling of the interior; the ground floor corridor was enlarged, new staircases were provided, and the great kitchen was added. The new entrance hall was also finished in 1815, and a clock and water tower were erected near the south-western corner the following year. In 1817 two square wings with concave pagoda roofs were added to the north and south, and by that October the magnificent music-room had been built on the site of the adjoining Grove House; the banqueting-room was then added to the south to balance the building. A few months later the large onion-shaped Indian dome replaced the flat round dome above the saloon, with two smaller Indian domes added either side. By late 1818 most of the interior details were completed by Crase, Jones and Lambelet, and the eastern facade was virtually finished; alterations to the north front and the King's apartments continued until 1821, however. From September 1818 (although perhaps from 1816 ) the Royal Pavilion and grounds were lit by gas.
The cost of land and buildings acquired for the reconstruction amounted to £97,454, and Nash's alterations cost a further £148,773; the total investment in the new palace was a massive £502,797. Nash left in disgrace in 1822 over excessive costs and was succeeded as architect by Joseph Good.
The Prince Regent, now King George IV , moved into the Royal Pavilion on 2 January 1821, but he stayed in his new home only three more times, in 1823, 1824-5 and finally in 1827, mainly because of his disenchantment with prying tourists. His brother and successor William IV stayed there often though, at least once in every year of his reign, and in 1830 changed the designation from the 'Royal Pavilion' to the 'Royal Palace, Brighton'. In 1831 William had a range of new dormitories built on the southern side of the western lawns behind North Street .

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:The Pavilion at Brighton, c. 1820: Horse traffic and pedestrians outside the Royal Pavilion.

The Pavilion at Brighton, c. 1820: Horse traffic and pedestrians outside the Royal Pavilion.

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

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