Brighton Beach

King George IV first visited Brighton in 1783 when he was 21. The village, then called Brighthelmstone, entertained him with balls and assemblies. In 1786, after his marriage to Mrs. Fitzherbert, he commissioned architect Henry Holland to refurbish a farmhouse into a mansion. Prinny, always a patron of the arts outdid himself at Brighton. Architect John Nash turned the mansion into a palace with an exotic Chinese interior with a Moghul exterior, complete with onion-shaped dome, tent-like roofs, pinnacles and minarets and an extravagant stable. The rooms inside, however, were extremely hot because of the heavy stoves and gas lighting.

Brighton had become a mecca for wealthy Brits. King George who valued his privacy never visited after 1827. He died in 1830 and was succeeded by his brother William. William stayed at the Pavilion but Queen Victoria disdained it. In the 1840s, the palace was gutted and only saved from demolition because it was purchased by Brighton for £50,000. Queen Victoria later returned much of what was taken and the rest was returned by Queen Elizabeth II. Tomorrow, A Fine Dresser.  Rita Bay

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