You may think that this week I’ve chosen to wander somewhere exotic, a Moroccan souk or Indian palace. Actually, I’m only an hour or so from where I live, in the lovely but much-less-exotic Brighton, on the south coast of England. This is the Brighton Pavilion.
The Pavilion actually started life as a much more modest farmhouse, which the Prince of Wales, later George IV, rented as a convenient place to see his longtime love, Maria Fitzherbert, whom he was forbidden to marry. In 1787 he decided he’d like grander accommodation, so incorporated the farmhouse into one wing of a larger building. Construction continued until 1822 and took several stages, with renowned architect John Nash overseeing the final phase, giving it the appearance it has today.
Brighton at the time was gaining in popularity as a seaside town, thanks to the Prince’s uncle, the Duke of Cumberland, who had held a residence there for several years. For many years the Pavilion was the summer home of the Royal Family, until Queen Victoria decided it was too ‘cramped’ and not private enough. She decided to move to the Isle Of Wight for her summer holidays instead, and so the Pavilion was sold to the town of Brighton in 1850, for the sum of £53,000, a fortune in those days (and not too bad today, either!)
The Pavilion is now open to the public, and features the most wonderfully opulent interiors. I didn’t go inside on my last visit but plan to do so next time, and of course I’ll share the photos when I do.
Even though the day I visited was bitterly cold, it was bright and clear, perfect for viewing fantasy minarets against an azure sky. In some ways it reminded me of Hearst Castle, another place built by a man to spend time with the woman he loved but couldn’t marry – a perfect folly.
Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!
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