The Royal Pavilion started as a modest 18th century lodging house. Architect Henry Holland helped George, Prince of Wales, transform his humble seaside retreat into a handsome neo-classical villa – known as the Marine Pavilion.
In 1815 George, by now Prince Regent, hired the eminent architect John Nash, to redesign the building in the Indian style. The work was completed in 1823 by which time George had become King. It is this building, an instantly recognisable symbol of Brighton, which we see today.
George was a cultured and well-educated man, enthusiastic about the visual arts, music and architecture. He loved chinoiserie – the decorative style inspired by China.
George enjoyed entertaining and surrounded himself with courtiers and fashionable society guests. At the Royal Pavilion he hosted gastronomic feasts in the Banqueting Room, and balls and concerts in the Music Room.
It is these flamboyant, artistic tastes, combined with George IV’s desire to impress, that are evident throughout the Royal Pavilion. The palace became in itself a complete work of art, furnished with exquisite French, English and Chinese export furniture and objects, and adorned with gilded dragons, carved palm trees and imitation bamboo staircases.