Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, 14 March – 3 September 2017

Brighton, UK


img.0Plans for a performance space in the Royal Pavilion Garden, 1920s or 1930s. c. Royal Pavilion & Museums.

A new display at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery will showcase rarely-seen views of the Royal Pavilion Estate dating back to the 1760s, alongside digital reconstructions of how it might have looked. 

According to curator Dr Alexandra Loske, “This display will survey the Royal Pavilion and its estate as it was and might have been, featuring rarely-seen views alongside discarded designs and recent digital re-creations.  It will give visitors an opportunity to see unfamiliar, unusual and rare images, sourced almost exclusively from the city’s own archives and collections.”

img.1Digital model of the Royal Pavilion Estate as it’s believed to have looked in 1832, with lost servants’ dormitory* in the foreground. By Colin Jones.

Illustrations from the earliest printed books about the estate will sit beside unrealised designs, early municipal maps and 20th century plans and images.  Highlights will include:

  • Images of the Estate before the Royal Pavilion was built, and early designs by Henry Holland, commissioned by the Prince Regent (1786, Marine Pavilion). 
  • Unrealised designs by Humphry Repton (published 1808), who George, as Prince of Wales, appointed to apply his romantic style to the Marine Pavilion and its grounds.  When his beautiful, hand-produced ‘Red Book’ of designs failed to win him a commission he had it published for commercial sale, with fewer than 250 copies thought to have been printed.  Delicate ‘overlays’ pasted onto the images provided before-and-after perspectives, with Repton’s ambitious proposals including a glass corridor around the entire East Lawn, an aviary, a pheasantry, a water feature and a clearer view of the sea. 
  • Rarely-seen designs and aquatints giving lively views of the Royal Pavilion Estate in the 18th and 19th centuries, sourced from the city’s collection and early popular guide books.
  • Depictions of fashionable Georgian society in and around the Estate, in rare watercolours, prints and drawings from the city’s collection.
  • 1820s and 30s drawings by Joseph Henry Good, who was commissioned by William IV to survey the Royal Pavilion Estate and drew up around 200 architectural plans. Detailed plans of now-lost servants’ quarters and the area around the South Gate give a new perspective on everyday life for staff on the estate.
  • Detailed digital 3D images of lost areas and structures of the Royal Pavilion Estate by RPM volunteer Colin Jones, largely based on the Good plans.
  • Images of the Estate’s use in the 20th century, including in World War II, and never-before-seen inter-war designs for the Royal Pavilion Garden.
  • Real and imagined views of the Estate in popular culture, including illustrations and cover designs for books like Malcolm Saville’s children’s adventure story The Long Passage (1954) and Georgette Heyer’s popular novel Regency Buck (1935).

Alexandra Loske has sourced almost all the display’s inclusions from the city of Brighton & Hove’s own archives and collections.  She said: “We’re keen to really make use of the city’s incredible collections, and keep making new items available for the public to see.”  

img.2ClockTower 3D model - c. Colin Jones

It also comes as RPM works with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and Brighton & Hove City Council to realise a future vision for the Royal Pavilion Estate, starting with a major refurbishment of Brighton Dome’s Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre. For more information on this, please visit

Visions of the Royal Pavilion Estate will form part of Royal Pavilion & Museums’ 2017 Regency Season**, which will also include Jane Austen by the Sea at the Royal Pavilion and Constable and Brighton at Brighton Museum

img.3View of the North Gate Royal Pavilion


About Brighton Museum & Art Gallery 

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery is one of Britain’s oldest public museums.  Located in the Royal Pavilion Estate at the heart of the city’s cultural quarter, its collections showcase arts and crafts from across the world and history from Ancient Egypt to modern Brighton.