The seaside town made famous by the Prince Regent is currently celebrating its Brighton Festival 2010 but the festival itself was not the object of our visit. As proud possessors of Art Fund membership cards, we hoped to visit the Royal Pavilion for free.
Brighton is a slightly strange city, but a very dynamic and exciting one. There is something for everyone and it takes time to get to know the town and what it has to offer.
It has quiet streets
and busy ones;
smart modern buildings,
and elegant ancient ones,
and, of course, the Royal Pavilion, a fairy-tale Indian palace set in a beautiful garden.
Built by the Prince Regent, later George IV, and decorated in Chinoiserie style with unparalleled splendour and artistic verve, the Royal Pavilion is a unique creation. Photography is not allowed so I cannot show you the inside, but in any case, everyone should see this wonderful building at least once.
Now owned by the city (the only royal palace not still in royal ownership), the Pavilion and its grounds have been painstakingly restored over many decades. During WWII, it was said that Hitler had instructed his Luftwaffe not to damage the Pavilion as he intended it to be his residence when in Brighton. During air raids, people used to run into the grounds, believing that they would be safe there. Whatever the truth of the story, the Pavilion was never hit by a bomb despite severe damage done to other parts of the town.
We enjoyed a cream tea on the terrace you can see in the photo above. This gull hoped he might be invited to join in
and this wood pigeon dropped by just to check that we hadn’t left any crumbs lying about.
After our visit to the Royal Pavilion, we took a walk through the smaller streets which seem to be made for pleasantly aimless strolling.
I liked this lamp in the window of a secondhand bookshop:
and was intrigued by the way the benches and tables of this coffee shop are strapped to the wall when the place is closed.
The day had started sunny and warm, as if summer had finally arrived, but in the afternoon, the clouds gathered again and the air quickly became chilly. We felt it was time to leave and returned to the station to catch the train to London Bridge.
We didn’t go down to the seafront on this visit but there will be other opportunities, I am sure, because Brighton is a city that calls you back again and again.