One of my first projects as Museum Futures Trainee was to digitise and publish the Pavilion Review, the Royal Pavilion & Museums newsletter which ran from 1984 to 2008.
This archive of 42 issues contains an incredible amount of insider knowledge and behind the scenes stories which very few people have had the opportunity to read. This limited audience is the exact reason why I was so eager to publish them, to make this wealth of knowledge accessible to the public.
The list of Pavilion Review issues are on our website. They link through to an index of each issue, describing the contents of every article. These then link through to the archive on our Digital Media Bank, a public space to view and download our collections.
During the scanning process, I made an index of the content of the articles as I went along. Not only was this useful information to put on the website but it was fascinating getting to read stories of Brighton’s history that I knew nothing about, despite growing up in the city.
One case of this was reading an article entitled ‘Hubert de Burgh and Portslade Manor’ in the February 2006 issue. Having an interest in medieval history, the name de Burgh immediately caught my eye. Hubert was a medieval nobleman and 1st Earl of Kent who inherited many castles in the South East, including Portslade Manor. He was later appointed Chief Justiciar of England (arguably the highest ranking position in the country under the King) in 1215 under King John and continued this role into the reign of Henry III. The manor fell into ruins during the Victorian era and the remains can now be seen next to St Nicholas Church. I was very intrigued by this so I decided to go see the ruins for myself. Immediately, I was surprised by how much was still standing considering its impressive thousand-year-old history.
Following on with this medieval theme, another article which caught my eye was the cover story ‘Treasures from Sussex Churches’ in the 1989, Number 2 issue. It details the history of a selection of churches in Sussex in relation to a previous exhibition at Brighton Museum of the same name, as well as the cultural significance and historical importance of the Christian Church in the Middle Ages. I was immediately drawn to this article because I, personally, would have found this gallery fascinating. Being able to read about it gives a great insight into a gallery, which I wouldn’t have otherwise known about.
Perhaps my favourite article was from the November 2001 issue, ‘The Reconstruction of a Seventh-Century Saxon Man’s Face’ about a facial reconstruction made of a skeleton excavated in Stafford Road, Brighton. This same skeleton has had another facial reconstruction made more recently by Oscar Nilsson which is currently on display in the Elaine Evans Archaeology Gallery at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery. To the left is a side-by-side comparison which really brings to light the advances in facial reconstruction technology.
For those interested in a look behind the scenes of Preston Manor, I would suggest reading the 1987, Number 2 issue which features an article entitled ”Below Stairs’ at Preston Manor’ and gives a detailed account of how the Stanford family home was run and the purposes of each room in 1906. It covers the use of the attic and basement at Preston Manor as well as a look at how the servants of the house would have lived, including their work life, bedrooms and dinner routines.
Tasha Brown, Museum Futures Trainee