Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Royal Pavilion ~ Brighton ~ England

The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England is a royal home like no other. It began as a simple farmhouse that George IV first stayed in when he visited the area in 1783. He liked Brighton so much that he created a neo-classical villa, the Marine Pavilion which is still part of the complex. Once he became Prince Regent, he began to add on and by 1822, after he became king, it became what is the Pavilion today, with the Indian inspired exterior architecture. The Royal Pavilion is a large tourist attraction, depicted by the 400,000 tourists and locals that visited the Pavilion last year.
The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England
King George IV and his brother William IV used the Pavilion as the royal residence while he reigned until 1830 but when their niece, Victoria became Queen, she didn't want to live here so stripped the Pavilion of all its' fittings and furniture. She then sold it to the city in 1850 and returned original wall
paintings and fittings and since then Queen Elizabeth II has loaned a lot of the original furniture and objects back to the Pavilion.

The Royal Pavilion
The architecture is not typical in England but it is an example of the Regency opulance and offers some incredible designs and sights that we spent time enjoying.  What is typical in most of these visits, is the camera cannot be used inside so I could not get any pictures of the many treasures that we were seeing. 

Domes on the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, England
The entrance fee to the includes a hand held audio guide that gives you lots of information and history of each room and objects in them as you walk through the Pavilion. We toured the King's apartments with the hidden bathroom door and included the bed made for him in 1828. The great kitchen had structural columns disguised as palm trees and a mechanical spit that was used to roast their meat, originally powered by a rotary vane in the chimney turned by hot air rising from the fire.

Unique architecture on the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England
King George IV took a very active part in the Pavilion's unique design and that was done without him having visited those countries. He had a special passion for music and that was an incredible room. There were so many beautiful sights but the 26,000 gilded cockleshells that cover the domed ceiling in the Music Room was amazing, if only I could have taken some photos. The Music Room has been restored since an arson attack in 1975 followed by storm damage in 1987.

Ornate walkway at the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, England
The Banqueting Room has everyone in awe of the absolutely amazing designs. There are so many unique things to see but the main chandelier hanging over the long dining table is 9 meters high and weighs over one ton. The dragons that decorate the chandelier is the theme of the chinese inspired decor of the interior of the Pavilion, which is combined with the motifs of India. There are several surprises in there and well worth a visit.

The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England
The Royal Pavilion was used as a hospital in WW1for wounded soldiers of the Indian corp. Many changes needed to be made for that use and damage to the original building was done at the time but restoration to this oriental palace is ongoing. The details in the royal residence of that time long ago are again becoming as grand as they once were. So much work has been done over the years but as with many of these magnificant castles and homes, ongoing restoration is part of retaining their history and keeping them beautiful for us to enjoy.  If you wish to see more of the Pavilion, click here.

Brighton ~ Lindfield ~ Ditchling Beacon ~ England

Our travels continue in England and today we are travelling south to Brighton on the southern coast. We drove through some beautiful countryside and small typical English villages getting out of the car on several occassions to enjoy it all. Our first stop of the day was in Lindfield.

Lindfield, England
 Lindfield was voted the "Best kept village in all Sussex" and still seems to maintain that appearance.  The highway brings us right into the main hub of the village where homes and storefronts line the road.  Lindfield does have sidewalks but many villages do not and the doorfronts can actually be within an arm's reach of the road.
The telephone booth of England
 No village would be complete without a freestanding red working telephone booth nor would my day be complete without getting at least one picture of one of these. They are seen all over and add that character and color that we visitors want to see on our visits to England.

View from Ditchling Beacon
We stopped at Ditchling Beacon which had an amazing view with the English Channel way off in the distance.  We saw a lot of green space in this small country that in spite of a large population, has protected much of their land that have given us many beautiful views during our travels in England.  Ditchling Beacon was donated to National Trust by a family in memory of their son who was killed during the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Armoury store in The Lanes, Brighton, England 
Most cities that we visit still have the original heart of the city or village that was built during the thriving time of years gone by.  Brighton is no exception and on our tour of the city we visited the Lanes.  This historic heart of this early fishing town has tiny narrow walkways between the shops that line either side.  They are for pedestrian traffic only, although were wide enough to handle a small buggy of early days.  The Lanes twist and turn, surprising us with another Lane, it wouldn't be hard to get lost.  We made our way through the most unique shopping area I had ever seen.
Narrow streets in The Lanes
Something we saw many times on our travels in England, was a style used in early days that was called flint and is shown on the corner of this building. Small stones, usually round ones, were lodged into the stucco to give it the appearance seen here.  I think it may have been for decorative purposes but would have been long lasting although very labor intensive, as was most of their construction in those early days.
The Boardwalk on Brighton Beach, England
The wind was cold and blowing hard enough that it made the walk along the beach pretty chilly but we followed the boardwalk along the storefronts that line the beach under the roads above. Several had closed either for the season or for the chilly day and the beach chairs were stacked in piles and tied down to be sure to be there when they would next be needed but we watched some surfers bobbing in the wake and the few brave who walked along the shore.

Brighton Pier, England
This old pier was built in 1823 as a landing for ships coming in from France but as the traffic increased and the opportunities were there, shops were added and it became a busy pier.  The pier was damaged by storms during early days and rebuilt at times but it wasn't until 1899 after a long and difficult time of rebuilding, that it was re-opened to become what it is today.  There is a lot to be seen on the Brighton Pier which is 1772 feet long.

Brighton Beach in England
The old pier called West Pier was originally one of three and built in 1866.  It had several features added over the years such as a bandshell, landing pier for steamers and the last to be added was a concert hall in 1916.  It was in use for many years but after WW11 it went into steady decline until 1975 when it was no longer used.  Two arson attacks in 2003 finally destroyed it to what is left standing today. It is now owned by West Pier Trust that is dedicated to rebuilding the pier and returning it to its' glory days. 

Waves of the English Channel at Brighton, England
I believe most people that have heard of Brighton might be due to the Royal Pavilion, but the beaches are what were in my mind.  I am sure I have seen pictures of those beaches from the very old days with rows of umbrellas and the old beach chairs filled with sunbathers. Brighton had been a famous seaside resort back in time.  It has not always retained that reputation but today it has again become a popular seaside resort, although we missed the hot sunny weather the sunbathers need.   

This was not a day for sunning on the beach but the English Channel was showing us some of her waves that splashed up on the Brighton shore and as the sun was struggling to break throught those clouds it was giving us some beautiful sights to enjoy.  Now it was time to move on and see the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.


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