We’re going on a Dragon Hunt at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton

Brighton Royal PavilionIt was my 12-year-old who begged to go to the Royal Pavilion. He said it looked like it had been beamed down from another planet and he just had to see it. We were so glad he did. The Royal Pavilion is as extravagant and eccentric on the inside as it looks on the outside and we just loved it. What’s more, it is decorated with loads and loads of dragons so it’s the perfect place for a family dragon hunt.

Royal Pavilion BrightonThe Royal Pavilion was built as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, in 1787. He wanted somewhere to escape from the confines of London and a discreet place to spend time with his mistress. George became Prince Regent in 1811 and continued to spend a lot of time in Brighton where he was known for his lavish entertaining and expensive tastes. The current appearance of the Pavilion with its Indian-style domes and minarets is the work of the architect, John Nash, who also designed Buckingham Palace.

As you walk into the Pavilion you are instantly struck by the bright colours on the walls and furnishings. There is nothing muted here, it’s all pinks, golds, greens, yellows and reds. Even the Entrance Hall is decorated with panels and banners of snakes and dragons. The whole theme is Oriental so while the exterior is Indian, all the interiors are influenced by the Chinese styles which were so fashionable in the Late Georgian era.

The whole effect is extravagant and exotic and we loved it. My two especially enjoyed spotting all the dragons, serpents and other fantastical creatures.

Our favourite room was the Banqueting Room which dwarves even the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace with its opulence and splendour. There are huge chandeliers and frescoes with mythological creatures (half phoenix and half peacock). There are literally dragons everywhere: gilded dragons, bronze dragons and a huge dragon holding the central chandelier.

The magnificence of the Banqueting Room reflects King George IV’s love of food. He enjoyed holding elaborate banquets, with as many as 100 dishes for a grand dinner. You can see a menu for the banquet held in honour of the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia’s visit in 1817. Some of the dishes served included thrush tart, stuffed partridges, haunch of boar and the head of a great sturgeon in Champagne. There were no less than 32 desserts, some of them elaborate centrepieces that were 1.2 metres high.

Brighton Royal PavilionGeorge IV’s lavish dining caught up with him in the end: he suffered morbid obesity and died of “fat on the heart”.

As a great lover of food, George was proud of his kitchen which was very advanced for his day. He used to love showing his visitors around the kitchen which boasted the latest steam heating technology and ventilation system. It too has an Oriental theme, with cast-iron columns ornamented with painted copper palm leaves supporting the ceiling. King George even dined here once with his servants.

Music was another of George IV’s great passions and the Music Room at the Pavilion is every bit as opulent as the Banqueting Room with its red and gold frescoes and nine lotus-shaped chandeliers.

Royal Pavilion in BrightonThe king often entertained his guests with concerts after dinner and the setting had to be magnificent so there are Chinese scenes depicted on the walls, carved flying dragons and serpents above the curtain drapes and a splendid gilded domed ceiling.

The next room we visited was the king’s bedroom. It had to be moved to the ground floor in his later life because he was afflicted with gout and so overweight that he could barely walk upstairs. There is a hidden door which leads up to his mistress’s bedroom and the bed is the bed that he died in, transported from Windsor Castle. It even has a tipping mechanism so that the overweight king could get out of bed more easily.

I loved the green and gold colour scheme and the adjoining library is so perfect I wanted to take it home.

Brighton Royal PavilionUpstairs, you’ll find the gorgeous Yellow Bow Rooms with their vivid yellow wallpaper hand-painted with designs of dragons, phoenixes and birds of paradise.

Queen Victoria’s Apartments are upstairs too. You can see the hand-painted Chinese wallpaper and mahogany four-poster bed furnished with six mattresses of straw, hair and feathers. There’s even a tiny Maid’s Room.

Queen Victoria’s bedroom is more muted in style than the other rooms, in keeping with a woman who was not amused by Brighton and the Royal Pavilion. She never much liked Brighton and the extravagant Pavilion was not to her taste. She told people that “the Pavilion is a strange, odd Chinese looking place.” She eventually sold the Pavilion to the town of Brighton in 1850.

While you’re upstairs you should visit the wonderfully eccentric Tea Room. We can definitely recommend the delicious cakes and the setting is a delight.

The Royal Pavilion is right in the centre of Brighton so after your visit take the time to wander down to the beach, walk along the Pier and have fish and chips. It’s the British seaside: it’s compulsory.

The Royal Pavilion is open daily. Adults, £11.50; children, £6.20.

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32 thoughts on “We’re going on a Dragon Hunt at the Royal Pavilion in Brighton

  1. I love the Pavilion – it’s such a fantastical unlikely building and you’ve really captured all the colours and the lavish decoration. Doing a dragon hunt is a great idea too, I know my daughter would have a lot of fun spotting them around the building. Thanks for linking up to #citytripping

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    • Thank you! My two loved the idea of all that opulence and lavish living. I’m afraid that and the trip we did earlier in the summer to Buckingham Palace has given them far too many grand ideas of how they’d like to live!

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  2. I’m ashamed to say I have never been to Brighton – isn’t that terrible!

    I so enjoyed reading this post, all the great detail about the Pavilion. Intrigued by the overweight king – I feel so sorry for his mistress. Do you think they used the tipping mechanism for that too? 😉

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    • Haha! It’s funny how sometimes we just don’t get round to visiting those places closer to home. This was only my second time to Brighton and the first to the Royal Pavilion – we’ll definitely go again. The boys have devoured the guide book.

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  3. Wow it looks amazingly opulent but also full of dragons – my 3 year old loves dragons, in fact that is the theme for his birthday party. Am definitely adding this to our list for next year. Thanks. Katrina x #citytripping

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  4. Great post – with so much interesting detail! I love the tipping bed – amazing. I like that he dined in the kitchen and was really proud of it too. On my first visit to Brighton I just couldn’t believe the stunning, opulent Pavillion. It sticks out like a sore thumb. I must go again and see the inside. It looks truly magnificent. Thank you for taking me on a journey through it and it’s history and for linking to #citytripping x

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  5. Pingback: City Tripping #3 - Wander Mum
  6. Thanks Clare – we shall venture inside this summer with the promise of dragons! I love that your son wanted to visit. I hope my kids are inspired by architecture and history when they are his age. Thanks for sharing

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  7. I’ve been to Brighton a number of times and walked past the Pavilion, but have never toured inside. I’ve meant to a few times but something else in Brighton always distracted me (I love Brighton). Your photos have given me renewed resolve to go inside next time I’m there. It does indeed looks as extravagant and eccentric on the inside as on the outside.

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  8. I’ve never been to Brighton and had a vision that the pier would be the highlight. You have changed that perception. I’ll definitely be putting the Pavilion on my list when I go there. I love those colours and of course I’ll have fun spotting dragons. Thank you for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard

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  9. I agree with your 12-year old. This place really looks like it had been beamed down from another planet. I’d love to visit it too. Thank you for joining us for #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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  10. I haven’t seen “Brighton” in the title and I stopped to wonder where this is, because I hadn’t thought it’s in Europe. Looks absolutely gorgeous, I would love to see it myself 🙂

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