The King’s Apartments
In John Nash’s scheme George IV’s suite was relocated from the upper floor to the ground floor. The move provided easy access for the king (who by now was overweight and suffering from gout) to his private and public rooms.
These Apartments are in a more restrained decorative style. The décor and the mixture of French and English furniture combine to create an atmosphere of quiet elegance. The original green dragon wallpaper has been replaced by a hand-painted copy.
A Prince’s Treasure: The Royal Collection Returns to Brighton
The King’s private apartment comprises ante-rooms, a library and the most private space of all, the King’s bedroom. Originally a wall separated the bedroom from the library with only one small door by the windows. The library side of the wall had a mirrored recess with draperies, a large sofa and possibly a throne.
George would only invite very special guests to the library and decorated it with luxurious furniture and objects. Three of these items have now returned for A Prince’s Treasure. Beneath the bookshelves are two side cabinets and between the windows is a French ebony-veneered writing desk that was probably purchased in Paris for George in c1820. They are fitted with Japanese lacquer panels depicting landscapes, shrubs and birds.
An original bed
On long-term loan from HM The Queen, King George IVs State Bed was made not for the Royal Pavilion but for Windsor Castle. It has a tipping mechanism so that the King, grossly overweight and gout-ridden, could get out of bed more easily.
The King’s Apartments we see today consist of bedroom, library and anteroom. The King’s bathroom led off the bedroom and had housed the latest luxurious bathing equipment. It was unfortunately demolished later in the 19th century.
The Yellow Bow Rooms
George IV’s favoured wallpaper design of dragons, phoenixes and birds of paradise was used to decorate the apartments of his brothers, the Duke of York and Duke of Clarence. Using the new and vigorous colour of chrome yellow gave the rooms their name – the Yellow Bow Rooms.
This suite of rooms has been restored to the original design with the dragon paper and dado having been meticulously reproduced from original fragments and printed in the traditional manner.
The vivid chrome yellow dramatically sets off the rich colouring of the Chinese oil paintings and watercolours, and contrasts impressively with the ‘red vase and flower’ chintz of the bed and window fabrics.
Queen Victoria’s Apartments
Queen Victoria first visited the Royal Pavilion in 1837 and felt it was a ‘strange, odd, Chinese looking place, both outside and inside’. She returned for a longer stay with her husband Albert and two children in 1842 and the upstairs chamber floor was adapted to accommodate the Queen and her family.
Victoria held a tight rein on the crown’s purse strings and wanted to distance herself (and the monarchy) from the extravagance and indulgence of the Regency era. The Royal Pavilion failed to provide her with sufficient space and privacy, so in 1850 she sold the palace to the town of Brighton.
Her three rooms – the Queen’s bedroom, the Maid’s room and the closet – have now been restored to reflect their appearance between 1837 and 1845.
New from April 2020
The original elegant 19th-century Chinese Export Wallpaper which hung in Queen Victoria’s Bedroom will be reinstated. The paper was removed by Queen Victoria and taken to Buckingham Palace in the 1840s but sections were returned to Brighton in the 1920s and hung in the Saloon until its recent restoration. Following specialist conservation and work to digitally reproduce missing sections the papers can now be seen again in their original setting. A new small display adjacent to Queen Victoria’s bedroom opening in April will highlight her links to the building and the City.
Please note: to facilitate this re-display Queen Victoria’s apartments and the Indian Military Hospital Gallery will be closed from 6 January to 20 March 2020.
The mahogany four-poster bed (furnished with six mattresses of straw, hair and feathers) is copied from an original 1830s bed at Stratfield Saye, the family seat of the Duke of Wellington.
The Maid’s Room is decorated with a reproduction of the original wallpaper supplied by courtesy of Brunschwig et Fils.
The Closet was used as a servant’s room during George IV’s reign and was converted into a water closet, either for King William IV or Queen Victoria.