Brighton Royal Pavilion

Brighton contains an unusual palace called the Royal Pavilion In 1783 the 21-year-old prince George fell in love with a Roman Catholic lady called Maria Anne Fitzherbert, whose previous two husbands had both died. He secretly married her in London, but this was illegal because he had not obtained permission from his father (who would not have allowed it because of a law that a prince could not become king if he married a Catholic). George bought a house for Mrs Fitzgerald in Brighton (which at that time was a small fishing town called Brightelmstone) and would often come down to Brighton from London to escape from the formality surrounding his father and to see his mistress. At first he stayed in a farmhouse nearby, but later he took over the property and started to transform it. George was given the title of Prince Regent when his father (King George the Third) suffered from a form of madness and was unable to rule. He took over many of the king's powers from 1811 until his father's death in 1820 (known as the Regency period). It was during this time that George asked the architect John Nash to transform his home in Brighton in the style of an oriental palace, inspired in part by the Taj Mahal in India. The interiors were decorated extravagantly, incorporating many Chinese influences. The project was finally completed in 1823, but George (by then King George the Fourth) didn't make much use of the Royal Pavilion much before his own death in 1830. The next king (William the Fourth) sometimes stayed here, but Queen Victoria preferred Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight and she removed most of its interior decorations and in 1850 she sold the building to the town of Brighton. Many of the original items of furniture have been returned, and extensive restoration work has been carried out. The Royal Pavilion is open to visitors (entry charges apply for the interior, but you do not need a ticket to enjoy walking through the gardens).