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Saturday, December 2

Brighton Pavilion

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man

Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
--Samuel Taylor Coleridge

When I visited Brighton Pavilion in Brighton, a charming seaside town in Sussex's South Downs, I found it more beautiful and fantastic than the drawings, paintings, and photos I'd seen. The building, rebuilt between 1815-1822 by John Nash, the Prince Regent's architect, is starkly white and stands in the center of town. Approaching it on foot, one is astounded by the intricacy of the architectural details, from the exterior domes, spires, and columns, to the interior with its gothic touches, fantasy rooms, and exquisite color combinations and patterns.

The Prince Regent was known for his excesses and expensive tastes, and his architect John Nash succeeded in fulfilling the Prince’s most outrageous wishes. The Gothic Revival was in full swing during the Regency Era, including the love for all things mid-Eastern, Chinoise, and Arabian. This Arabian Nights fantasy in stone has been well documented in picture books and on the web. I will merely point out a few spectacular rooms and some of the details that struck me as being particularly beautiful or unusual.

The kitchen, a cavernous room created to comfortably accommodate the Prince's idea of an intimate dinner, is depicted on this web page. Click here and scroll down to the kitchen. You can also see a panoramic view of the kitchen on the page if you have a real player. It was not unusual for the Prince to throw a banquet with 36 courses, hence the kitchen was designed to accommodate the scores of cooks and enormous amounts of food stuffs and ingredients required to prepare these foods.

The long gallery is indeed long. The colors are riotous, and one feels as if one is traipsing through a fantasy land.

On the left is a picture of John Nash's long gallery. On the right is a photograph of the long gallery today.

The banquet room also lingers in my memory, with its long, long banqueting table, the exquisite details in the ceiling, and the fantastic carved dragons peeping out from chandeliers disquised as palms.

Salon & Music Room

Images of Brighton in the 19th Century:
Evening Gathering at Brighton Pavilion in the Yellow Room

Brighton, a seaside resort

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