Discovering the treasures of the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museum

Patrick Moorhead has secured a well-earned reputation as one of the UK’s finest antique furniture and art dealers in a career spanning three decades. If you are visiting the stocked Brighton warehouse, take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the artistic side of Brighton, most notably the Royal Pavilion.

The Royal Pavilion comes with a colourful history. Towards the end of the 18th century, Brighton was moving away from its reputation as a struggling fish town and became known as a holiday retreat for figures of note, thanks in part to the proximity to London. In 1787, George, Prince of Wales commissioned an architect to transform his Brighton lodging house into a villa fit for a Prince Regent. The decorating consisted of Chinese exported furniture to match George’s extravagant tastes with maximum comfort.

The appeal wasn’t just limited to the building. Dr Richard Russell discovered that the seawater offered therapeutic remedies, which he incorporated into his treatments as a physician. It was this same water that had led George to Brighton on the advice of his physicians.

The expansion of the Royal Pavilion would take place over several decades in multiple instalments, culminating in 1815 with the completion of the oriental palace that stands there today.

George’s presence over this period allowed Brighton to prosper, with residents growing from 3620 in 1786 to 40634 in 1831. Over the years, several monarchs visited the Royal Pavilion, including William IV, who sought to expand the building for his Queen’s household, and Queen Victoria, who would sell the palace to the town in 1850 for £50,000, after which the Pavilion was opened to the general public.

Today, tourists will have the opportunity to visit lavishly decorated rooms such as the Banqueting Room – an opulent dining hall; the Great Kitchen – which lived up to its namesake and the Music Room – which offered the height of entertainments to guests. What began as a Prince’s luxurious vision ended as a springboard to open Brighton up to the rest of the world.

But the Royal Pavilion is also home to many other layers of Brighton history, most notably the Brighton Museum located in the Pavilion’s garden. Some of the many sights to set your eyes on the Elaine Evans Archaeology Gallery, which explores the lives of Brighton and Hove’s earliest residents from the Stone Age up to the Saxon Era. This family-friendly exhibit takes visitors on a series of magical tours in the guise of children’s stories written by local children author Imogen White and illustrated by local artist Jennifer Khatun.

The Museum is also home to an extensive Fine Art gallery, filled with many fine pieces of art such as The Reader, Girl Knitting and Boy with a Cat. But the Museum can also offer a glimpse into the many cultures around the world with their World Art Collection. Collecting items from such countries as Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Americans between 1860 and 1940, the collection includes masks, sculptures, textiles and agricultural tools. The Fine Art Gallery harkens back to periods where Britain had a colonial presence in countries such as India and West Africa. Its prestige has further been established by Arts Council England, who cited it as a collection of national importance. Some of the most prominent artefacts include ‘kpokpo’ woven textiles created in 1880, a ‘batakari’ gown covered in leather amulets, and an extensive collection of 18th-century and 19th-century beadwork representing Zulu and Xhosa makers in South Africa.

If you’re looking to take a tour of a founding location in Brighton’s history, or maybe lay your eyes on beautifully crafted artefacts with a unique history behind each one, then the Royal Pavilion and Brighton Museum are where you need to be.

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