If you were strolling in Pavilion Gardens on any weekend this summer, you will have seen our purple and gold t-shirts and banner, asking “Can We Help?”
As Garden Greeters we’re on hand to welcome visitors, promote the Royal Pavilion and Museums, and to share tantalising historical tales.
Amongst us are artists, nurses, gardeners, tarot readers and much more, from many far flung places. We come prepared with leaflets and books. But even we couldn’t answer some of the questions put to us this year. Or persuade the odd visitor that their “fact” was indeed fiction.
For instance, we really did try to help the chap who kept on coming to ask “Why are there no flowers on the lawn?” We chatted for hours. In the end, he just wasn’t a fan of lawns.
Visitors always like to hear about George IV’s tunnel under the Gardens, and we’re ready to be told of the mythical tunnels too…to Mrs Fitzherberts house, or to escape a revolution to the beach. A new resident in Brighton had news for us, though. The night before he’d been shown a secret door. In the cellar of a pub in North Laine. What was behind the door? Prince Albert’s tunnel, so that he could get a pint whenever he wanted. Could we convince him that it wasn’t true? Absolutely not, because we hadn’t seen the door. Have you?
You never know who you’re going to Greet, or where they’re from, which is part of the fun. I remember trying to buy a bus ticket in Indonesia, but ending up taking a taxi. Me and the ticket guy just couldn’t get those tickets done! So after that, we always do our best to help. A lady from France had walked from North Street, and was very disappointed that the Lanes was only one lane. With a smile, we gave her a map, and suggested a few others. When we were asked where the Indian Embassy has moved to, or when the Turkish Baths became a museum, we let them down gently, and suggested a free audio tour.
There are always going to be lots of new folks to Greet, but there’s also lots of new things for us to discover. The mystery of the Weeping Wych Elm, Abba facing their Waterloo, a WW2 spy (apparently) hiding in a tree. So there’s plenty more Garden Greeting to be done.
We’ll be back next summer to do so!
Matt Wilson, Royal Pavilion Garden Greeter