Grounds opened to the public in 1850
Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990. As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.
j) PAVILION GROUNDS: The eastern lawns of the Royal Pavilion originally formed part of the Steine , but in 1793 the Prince of Wales and Duke of Marlborough were given permission to enclose the land in front of their houses following their construction of a sewer along the western edge of the Steine . In 1805, with Great East Street now closed to the public from North Street to Church Street (see ” New Road “), the grounds were laid out by Messrs Lapidge and Hooper, and were extended northwards in about 1816 when a road immediately north of Grove House was stopped up and Church Street was extended through to Grand Parade .
The western lawns were acquired by the Prince of Wales in the years from 1795 to about 1819, and included the Dairy Field of the original farm on which the Marine Pavilion was erected. The Quaker’s Croft, at the rear of their former meeting house in North Street , was leased from 1806, and the Promenade Grove, the town’s first pleasure garden, was also acquired. This grove, which was entered through an arched gateway in Prince’s Place and stretched almost to Church Street , opened on 13 July 1793 in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and was described as a miniature version of the famous Vauxhall Gardens near London. There were flower-beds, shrubs, a fine avenue of elms (the only trees in the centre of the town at that time) and an elegant saloon, and many events were held including concerts, firework displays, illuminations, stage performances, dancing and pony races. On 14 August 1795 1,400 people attended a firework display in honour of the Prince’s thirty-third birthday, but in August 1802 he purchased the grove in order to extend his estate, and it closed on 16 September 1802 with a grand display of Mount Vesuvius in fireworks. The Prince did allow a Mr Quartermain to reopen the gardens for one more season until September 1803, however, with the proceeds going to the poor.
Other areas were granted by the lords of the manor in 1813, 1815 and 1827, and the Pavilion grounds now cover approximately 3.5 acres. They were lit temporarily by gas in September 1818, but permanent lamp-posts were erected during the reign of William IV and nineteen of these original cast-iron standards, with copper lanterns supported by scrolls and topped by crowns, remain; they are now listed structures although some have been mutilated.
The Royal Pavilion grounds were first opened to the public on 29 June 1850, and bye-laws were made to prohibit smoking, intoxication, begging, games, and ragged or offensive attire. They were closed during the First World War when the estate was used as a hospital , but reopened in June 1920. In 1921-3 several improvements were made including the replacement of the tall railings by the present miniature balustrade, the levelling of the eastern lawns, and the addition of small ornamental pools. During the Second World War a bomb fell on the western lawns creating a large crater that was converted into a static water tank. In 1985-7 the western lawns were restored to their original plan, the statue of Sir John Cordy Burrows having been removed to the Old Steine . The grounds have now been designated as being of historic interest by English Heritage, but many of the fine trees were unfortunately uprooted in the great storm of October 1987 .
Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder.