10. Music Room [KIDS]


ALFIE I’m tired. Can’t we sit down?

BILLIE We can sit on the bench by the wall. Or if you want, we can lie down on the amazing carpet and look up at the fantastic ceiling.

ALFIE Are we allowed?

BILLIE No one minds as long as we’re quiet. And you get a better view of the shells on the ceiling. There are 26,000 of them, and all of them are covered in gold leaf.

ALFIE They get smaller as they go up.

BILLIE The ones at the bottom are bigger than an outstretched hand, and the ones at the top are smaller than your thumbnail! It’s another optical illusion, to make the ceiling look even higher than it is.

ALFIE And there are lots more dragons! Chinese ones like snakes, and European ones with wings.

BILLIE And some of them are sculptures in 3D and some of them are painted in 2D.

ALFIE So what is this room? It’s huge!

BILLIE It’s the music room.

ALFIE That explains the music. And the organ pipes along the wall.

BILLIE George had his own private orchestra, and they used to play concerts here. They also used it for dancing, but first they had to roll up the carpet and make markings on the floor with chalk.

ALFIE Like playing hopscotch in the playground!

BILLIE When George went back to London, to clean the carpet they used to send it back to the maker to shave a fine layer off the top. It took 60 people to roll it up and move it!


BILLIE The famous Italian composer Rossini came here in 1823 and played a concert for George, who was the king by then. SFX: Rossini’s music abruptly interrupted by radio static and urgent pips

NEWSREADER (1940s voice) We interrupt this concert by Rossini with urgent news of a fire at Brighton Pavilion. In 1975 a man set fire to the curtains in the music room. The fire destroyed the ceiling and damaged some of the murals but luckily the firemen managed to put the fire out.

SFX: Music resumes to be abruptly interrupted by radio static and urgent pips

NEWSREADER We interrupt this interruption with news that following the fire, dry rot has been discovered in the ceiling. Restoration is expected to take eleven years.

SFX: Music resumes to be abruptly interrupted by radio static and urgent pips

NEWSREADER And now the weather: It’s October 1987, and hundred mile-an-hour winds are forecast for much of Southern England.

SFX: Howling gale followed by the crash of the top of a minaret falling through the roof, drowning out the music.

NEWSREADER We interrupt this weather forecast with news that gale force winds have destroyed the Music Room. The top of one of the towers fell through the roof and crashed into the floor. Restoration is expected to last until 1992. Now back to 1823 and Rossini.

SFX: Music continues.

ALFIE What’s a minaret?

BILLIE It’s one of the pillars you can see from the outside. The bit that fell through the ceiling was like a giant one-and-a-half-tonne ‘Iced Gem’ on the top!


BILLIE If you look carefully, you can see where the carpet had to be repaired. There’s a patch about ten metres from the door, and three metres in from the window.

ALFIE Let’s go, in case another one falls through.

BILLIE Before we go, I bet you can’t find the painted-out duck on the mural opposite the organ pipes.

ALFIE Really, where?

BILLIE It’s about half way along, and about a metre from the bottom.

ALFIE Wicked. I’m going to have a look.