16. North West Gallery [+]

North West Gallery


This room has a display on the history and construction and restoration of the building. Here’s David Beevers on the extraordinary exterior design of the Pavilion.

David Beevers

The exterior of the Pavilion is Indian and the interior of course is Chinese, but what sort of Indian is it? It was often called at the time ‘Hindu’, but it’s not Hindu at all, it’s Mughal, Islamic, it’s northern India, it derives from northern Indian 16th century prototypes. But an Indian visitor wouldn’t recognise really anything here, he’d recognise a few elements but the whole planning of the Pavilion is European. And where does all this come from? It’s partly connected with the fact that in 1783 we lost the colonies in the United States, and so the Pavilion is kind of a visible history of the British Raj and the beginning of the British Empire in India. Where did Nash, the architect of course, get all his ideas from? Well, Thomas and William Daniells’, uncle and nephew, published a series of views of India between 1795 and 1808 and we know that John Nash borrowed a book of these views. He used the elements from them but put them all together in a very European, very picturesque kind of way. But the important point to stress is this isn’t the actual first building to go Indian on this site because in 1804 the Dome, which was the royal stables, had gone Indian and you had this situation that the Prince was in a classical building and the Dome was this huge Indian style block of 1804 and it was said that the Prince Regent’s horses were housed rather better than he was. And so he decided that he wanted the Pavilion to be in a style to match the Dome. Today, here in Brighton, this estate and another Indian building at Sezincote in Gloucestershire are the two greatest examples of Regency exoticism and in the case of the Pavilion a dream world in which the Prince could play out his wildest fantasies.

When you are ready, continue to your right, to the Adelaide Corridor and tearooms.