On June 20 four BHT Heritage clients enjoyed a fascinating tour of The Royal Pavilion’s basement and subterranean tunnel.
The tour started in the servants’ corridors below ground-level, where we were informed that prior to a visit from the King over 200 fireplaces had to be cleaned, 1548 muslin blinds prepared, and 8891 towels had to be washed and dried at the Seven Dials drying fields. We were able to climb the stone stairs which would have been used by servants to access the palace’s Music Room.
We were next taken through to the original boiler room where a foundation bay for Henry Holland’s transformation of the modest farmhouse to the Marine Pavilion was visible. The boiler would use up to a 1/4 ton of coal daily to heat The Royal Pavilion.
We also glimpsed the Victorian climax boiler which replaced the original boiler in 1886. Interestingly, these rooms were used as air raid shelters during the war.
Before entering the tunnel we were taken through to an area which sat directly beneath the Music Room, where King George’s 46-piece band would prepare. The band would perform every time the King visited Brighton and cost £8,000 a year.
The tour finished in the subterranean tunnel, which was built in 1822. It enabled King George IV to visit his horses at the stables, now Brighton Dome, without having to pass through the public Pavilion gardens. Three underground streams had to be held back to construct the tunnel, which runs from the North end of the Royal Pavilion to the entrance hall of Brighton Museum and Art Gallery. Costing £1783 to build, the tunnel was also used for trade purposes, and to bring coal into King George’s palace.
The tours are currently being delivered once a fortnight.
Fascinating insight into life below stairs!