The Sassy Countess is a blog about historic houses, properties, castles, estates, mansions, homes, land, and lifestyles! Focusing mostly on 18th century, other time periods are also included, such as Regency, Golden Age, Gilded Age, Victorian, American Post and Antebellum, Romantic, Jacksonian, Medieval, Renaissance, Edwardian, New Republic, etc.
Royal Pavilion had belonged to the Prince, later to be His Majesty, King of
England, George IV. He had tried to set himself apart from his stiff father and
his boring court. He wanted to be independent and creative. He had been a lover
of art and architecture, and of course, women. It was George IV’s love of
opulence that had been the catalyst for choosing oriental architecture for his
George IV was the
son of the infamous mad King George III. George IV ruled as Regent while his
father had been incapacitated due to illness. George IV had been his father’s
complete opposite. He wanted to live as easily as possibly. He did not like the
stuffiness of his father’s court.
had been rigidity in the court of his father that he did not liken to. George
IV wanted to distance himself from what he had considered to be old and
confining. George IV had been considered a political conservative when compared
against his father. He did not care for the rules of Parliament in regards to
religion and the British Throne. This had been advertised by his secret
marriage to a Catholic. To be certain ofthe decendentcy, his father had technically illegitimatized this union.
However, George IV continued to live with Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert for years.
years the Prince Regent had loved wonderful, luxurious, beautiful, and fast,
things. He loved rich foods and luxurious fabrics. George IV also loved to
gamble. He loved fast horses, and fast women. Beautiful art and architecture
had also been one of his elaborate indulgences.
George III wore a
wonderfully elaborate powdered wig for years. So too did George IV. At least he
did so early in his adult life. It was the introduction to less elaborate
fashions by Beau Brummell that changed all that. He was fascinated by
Brummell’s ease and beauty. Brummell had been the toast of male fashion, and
George IV wanted to be a part of that society.
George had even paid “30 ducats” for a coat to keep up with his fashionable
lighthearted society had been the exact opposite of his father’s society. Even
though he had decreed to love Mrs. Fitzherbert forever, this did not stop him
from having other amours. He in fact had been required to marry his cousin,
Caroline of Brunswick, to try and produce a legitimate heir. By paying his
tremendous debts his father blackmailed him into complying with this
arrangement. But, he could not stand his Protestant cousin bride. So, he again
turned to Maria and his other “licentious” dalliances for comfort.
had been what he thought that he needed when he first arrived in Brighton. He
had gone there at first for medical treatment. He had a “glandular swelling of
the hand and neck” that needed immediate attention.
This visit may possibly have been to escape his father’s stifling court.
Whatever the initial reasons, he found that he enjoyed the free lifestyle
the area so much had been the catalyst for purchasing a modest house there. The
modest House was purchased in 1786. Construction began the next year, and
continued for the next thirty-seven years under the guidance of the Prince
Regent.Evolving from that simple
domicile into the grand palace did not happen in one stage. The house turned
into what had been termed the Marine Pavilion in 1787.
Henry Holland had
been commissioned to design the Marine Pavilion. This had been a grand
neo-classical mansion with two wings attached to the original building. It had
been enlarged again in 1801-1802 by one of Holland’s assistants.P.F. Robinson added a dining room and a
conservatory but it had still “not suitable for the large social events
and entertaining that George loved to host”.Another addition created the
craze that followed.
William Porden had
designed the addition of the stable that had been completed in 1808. Porden created
a stable that dwarfed the mansion. Since the Prince loved his horses, he
visited there often. What was so interesting about this building, besides the
size, was the architectural style. This stable had been built in the exotic
Indian style took hold of the Prince. George IV hired John Nash to turn his
classical mansion into an oriental masterpiece. Nash began the transformation
in 1815. By this time, George IV had received his title of Prince Regent
officially. Not only had his beautiful stables inspired the Regent, but also a
book on Oriental Scenery had inspired Nash. The two worked together in creating
masterpiece had been built in the “Indo-Saraceneic architectural style” as it
is called today. But, the
Regent just called it his “Hindoo Palace”.
The Indian influence has been obviously important with the architecture.
However, there are subtle Chinese influences on the outside as well.
These were not apparent to the uneducated eye. While an interest in the outside
world was being kindled, there was no true amount of understanding of reality
or its intricacies. All Oriental features just appeared foreign and exotic to
most British during the reign of George IV. 
and the Regent became educated in orientalist style as they went along with the
construction process. Not only had the foreign style been chosen, but they also
chose to use the foreign substance that went along with it. Stucco had been
introduced from China and had used to cover the outer structure as well as some
inside walls. The building had included rounded walls to emphasize the
irregularity, asymmetry, as well as movement that were becoming important in
rococo architecture at the time.
and especially oriental architecture, had come to be thought of as a sign
Only the rich could afford such extravagances. It had also come to mean less
formal and having refined tastes. Every beau monde had to have some sort of
oriental piece within their house to be considered fashionable.
The Regent’s Pavilion could certainly claim that.
Pavilion also included many oriental interiors. Frederick Crace and Robert
Jones were the interior architects/designers. The exotic architecture of the palm
tree columns in the Banqueting room hide iron that supported that roof.
The Saloon had window and door casements that were designed to look like
Persian valances.The entrance hall had walls that had been
shaped and hung with Roman tent drapery, with a Chinese lantern hung from the
center ceiling. All this to impress the entering ton.
banqueting hall was a display of decadent orientalism that every member of the
ton deigned to dine. Palm fronds adorned the ceiling. Murals of Chinese scenes
decorated the majority of the walls. The areas that were not so covered, were
done so with silk wallpaper. Masonic emblems were embedded in the foreign style
to remind the diner of the Regent’s position of Grand Master in the local
temple. Chinoiserie flowering had been the overall theme.
theme of the long gallery had been oriental. There were Chinese statues and
vases. African style vases. Chinese lantern gasoliers hung from the elaborate
ceiling. The walls were painted in a rococo style and color bamboo design. And,
a Persian style carpet covered the floor. Contemporary style bamboo chairs were
placed for seating of the guests while they looked at Japanese lacquer
could not enter the Prince Regent’s personal apartments. These were decorated
with bright blue paints with bamboo trim work. The overlaid trellis is done in
a geometric style that resembles stained glass. There are Chinese dragons and
characters on the inside of the trey ceilings, and above some doors. Other
doors appear to have a type of hieroglyph over them. Whatever the technical
style, George IV loved these apartments.
IV felt more at ease here than most places. He could be himself. He did not want
to live a formal life. So, the oriental surroundings suited that mood. Although
more ceremonious than what is considered formal today, the Hindoo Palace did
not comply with that meaning during the Regency period. The Regent would have
been more casual with his friends within its walls.
still more casual, the sense of grandeur would have been unmistakable. No one
could forget that George IV had been heir to the Throne. Palaces had always
been built to convey majesty and soft power.
And, as only a specific few would have been invited in, the Regent also showed
his partiality to those that were.
People have always wanted what they could not have, and the Regent knew this.
George IV exercised elitism fluently.
of only the British aristocrats had been invited in. At least not as personal
guests. George IV put many characteristics of many contemporary and future
British colonies into the Royal Pavilion. But, these peoples remained uninvited
during the time that this palace was actually lived in. “Imperialism [had been]
accompanied by racism.”
Englishmen built the foreign styled palace. Anglo-Saxon gentlemen attended the
events and soirées within walls that had been decorated of distant places.
Nothing had been considered too outlandish for those that entered. It felt like
they had entered an alien local. This was an exotic place that mesmerized
and picturesque, the palace had been set on beautiful grounds. The flowering
shrubs had been planted early in the building process. Other plants and flowers
had been planted to give the feeling of informal walkways. Getting back to
nature had been indicative of the picturesque style with regards to ancient
times and cultures. Getting to
the feelings and simpler beginnings had been a sign of romantic leanings.
Romantic poets would certainly have
come in contact with the Regent and his friends. This was time of the
romantics, and George IV had been a lover of art. Samuel Taylor Coleridge commented “Examine nature accurately, but
write from recollection, and trust more to the imagination than the memory”.The Regent certainly used his imagination in
completing this particular palace. No one could feel differently.
association with homes and architecture had been at its infancy when the Royal
Pavilion was reaching completion. During this time studies began in regards to
architecture effecting human behavior. Interiors were just beginning to be
considered that could sooth “a citizens overwrought nerves”.They could also show the influence of the
owner’s individualism, status, and personal feelings and fulfillment.
George IV’s personality can certainly be seen given these beliefs. He had
wanted to be considered different than his father. He had a sense of humor and
loved art. He was the next in line to the English Throne, and he had been a
certainly been in the air of the Hindoo Palace. George loved his food and
became obese by the age of thirty.
The palace had the most up to date kitchen in Britain by 1822.
He also loved gambling and betting on the horses. The Pavilion held a stable
larger than other mansions.
And, of course, George IV loved women. He used the exotic building as a stage
for his love affair with “Mrs. F.”, as well as any other woman of the moment.
Orientalism had consistently been
associated with the erotic.
And, the Regent certainly continued with his licentious affairs within the
Palace. Sexual titillation had certainly occurred in groups that frequented the
Regent’s social sphere during other gatherings.
The idea of it happening here could not be too far off. While none of the
images appear pornographic that are viewable to the public, there most probably
would have been some around due to the nature of the building, and the sexual
appetite of the man.
What was viewable was the Chinese
bridal procession mural in the banqueting room. Could this have been a nod to
his wedding to Maria Fitzherbert? Would she have felt love, adoration,
and maybe even a little amorous toward the Regent whenever she gazed upon this
scene? His marriage had been an open secret. The Regent had even cohabitated
with her at the Royal Pavilion.
Regent had been known to be fickle. He had been fickle with his women. He had
also been fickle with his lodgings. He tore down one of his favorites, Carlton
House in 1826. The Royal
Pavilion also felt his inconstancy. After his coronation, the now King George
IV, never returned to stay at his foreign style palace.
He had to put on a front for the country now. He could no longer live a foreign
life, it had to belong to Britain. The Pavilion had lost its romantic sheen.
of oriental romance set the scene for George IV’s amours. The Hindoo Palace was
a place that inspired awe for the beau monde that followed the Regent to
Brighton. This had been his private place where he could show privilege to his
friends, and those who expected only the best from the lover of opulence.
Orientalist decoration abounded without any specific country or location. It
had been the ideal of the exotic that enticed the Prince into converting his
modest house into an Oriental Pavilion. George IV loved everything about this
place before he became King. Love had certainly been in the air, at least for a
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