The Brighton Pavilion is indeed an oriental pleasure-dome; in fact, one cannot easily determine whether Indian, Mogul, or Chinese-Japanese influences predominate; certainly nothing quite like it exists between the Steppes of Russia and Moorish Spain: it is indeed a Prinny "original," containing two of the most extravagant and extraordinary rooms in all of northern Europe.

The Banqueting Room is dominated by its central chandelier—a vast structure, in 1818 immensely modern because it was lit by gas, not candles. (The Prince incorporated all the technical achievements of his time; the pavilion is the first house to use cast-iron pillars both for structure and decoration.) It weighs a ton and consists of a bronze-leafed plaintain tree from which hangs a large silver dragon holding in his claws an enormous glass bowl and around its rim are six smaller dragons with lotus flowers in their mouths. The cost was £5613 9 s od (well over £50, 000 today [1977]). There are four other enormous water-lilies and eight ten-foot-high standard lamps — a pedestal of gilt dolphins, a huge, deep blue Spode vase topped by a lotus flower of tinted glass (cost £5322 4s od). The room itself is painted with Chinese scenes; the decoration is crimson, gold and blue. The decorative work cost £8339 11 s od and the furniture £9710 8s od. The total cost of the room was the equivalent of about £450, 000.

The Music Room is in many ways more astonishing still. It was of this room that the Princess Lieven, one of the most sophisticated women of her time, wrote: 'I do not believe that since the days of the Heliogabalus, there has been such magnificence and such luxury. There is something effeminate in it which is disgusting. One spends the evening half-lying on the cushions: the lights are dazzling: there are perfumes, music, liqueurs' (as might be expected, the Prince loved perfumes and cases of quart bottles were constantly being sent to Brighton). The room seemed to recall Marco Polo's description of the great tent of Genghis Khan. (Plumb, pp. 198-199)

Related Material

References

Automobile Association of Great Britain. Treasures of Britain and Treasures of Ireland. Drive Publications, London: 1973. Pp. 99 & 101.

Higginbottom, David. Il. John Barrow and Eric de Mare. The Brighton Royal Pavilion. Brighton, Sussex: The Royal Pavilion, Museums and Libraries Committee, 1972.

Plumb, J. H. "George IV." Royal Heritage: The Story of Britain's Royal Builders and Collectors. British Broadcasting Corporation, London: 1977. Pp. 197-242.


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Last modified 12 October 2006