12. King’s Apartments [+]

More in this room


By the time George inherited the throne in 1820 he was almost sixty years old and in poor health. Throughout his life he had struggled with a range of ailments, including rheumatism and gout.

Struggling up the stairs to his bedrooms on the first floor became impractical, and when Nash remodelled the Pavilion, George had his bedroom moved to the ground floor. In the corridor, he kept a Merlin chair, which was an early type of wheelchair. The bed is the one that George died in, at Windsor on the 26th of June 1830. It has a mechanism to raise and lower it, to help him get in and out. To the right of the bed, you can make out a hidden door, known as a jib door, which led to the King’s water closet or lavatory.

The jib door also leads to stairs that went up to the apartments of George’s last mistress, Lady Conyngham, in what is now part of the Royal Pavilion tearoom.

If you turn your back to the bed, in the wall to your right you might be able to see another jib door. This was George’s plunge bath. Lined with marble, it held over 6000 gallons, and would be filled with heated seawater. Sadly it was destroyed when the Palace was stripped in the 1850s.

Another type of treatment George enjoyed were vapour baths followed by therapeutic massage with aromatic oils. These were administered by an Indian entrepreneur called Sake Dean Mahomed.

Sake Dean Mahomed

Sake Dean Mahomed, c1810

Sake Dean Mahomed was born in India and served with the Bengal Army before coming to Cork in 1782. In 1793 he became the first Indian author to be published in English, with The Travels of Dean Mohamed, about his journey from India to Ireland. Later he opened the Hindostanee Coffee House in London, which was reputedly the first Indian restaurant to open in Britain. It was rather ahead of its time, though, and the venture failed. In 1810 he moved to Brighton where he opened “Mahomed’s Baths” where he popularised a form of vapour bath combined with therapeutic massage designed to treat various ailments including gout and asthma. This was known as shampooing, derived from the Hindustani word champo, which has little to do with what we understand as shampoo today. Sake Dean Mahomed supervised the installation of the King’s bathroom in the Royal Pavilion and from 1822 became Royal Shampooing Surgeon to both George IV and the future William the Fourth.