What do you think of when you imagine a traditional British seaside resort? My guess is that Brighton would have pretty much everything on your list.
A pier? Check – in fact it has two, although one is a bare skeleton, all that remains after a fire in 2003.
The other, the Palace Pier, is a classic seaside pier; a walk along it to the fairground rides at the far end offers fresh air and lots of photo opps.
A promenade? Check, of course! And perfect for another walk and for a spot of street photography. The architecture is interesting too, with everything from grand hotels (the grandest actually called The Grand) to small cafés and souvenir shops.
A beach? Naturally, and as on much of England’s south east coast, here it is a pebble one.
Ice cream? Fish and chips? Candyfloss? All those and more, and plenty of seagulls to snatch them from your hands if you aren’t careful!
Behind the scenes as it were, that is in the town that lies behind the beach, Brighton can seem very UNtraditional. As I have shown in a previous post, it’s an excellent place to find street art – and I mean art, not casual graffiti. There are also lots of quirky shops selling everything from vintage clothes to original art, ethnic jewellery to seaside souvenirs. Time for some more street photography, a coffee break and maybe some shopping.
The Royal Pavilion
As we walk between the prom and the town centre we may pass the Royal Pavilion. This, as I mentioned in my previous post about the town, is arguably the main reason behind Brighton’s development as a resort. This is the ‘seaside cottage’ commissioned by the Prince Regent (later King George IV) and designed to his exacting specifications by the architect John Nash.
It had started life as a simple lodging house but that would never be enough to suit this flamboyant prince. He convinced Parliament to increase his income, which funded its first transformation into a modest villa. But when in 1811 he became Prince Regent (because his father, George III, had been deemed incapable of acting as monarch), his ambition and imagination grew. Nash was hired to turn the modest villa into a grand oriental palace, with striking results.
The building couldn’t look more out of place in an English seaside resort, but it had an immediate impact on the town. Its construction created employment for local tradesmen, labourers and craftsmen. And the presence in the town of the court, George’s guests, members of society and the Royal Household provided invaluable business for local builders and the service industries. Perhaps most importantly, where the court went, high society followed, and Brighton became the place to be seen in the summer season.
Handsome seafront squares and crescents were built to accommodate the visitors, many of which still stand today. The town may have changed a lot since George’s day, but he certainly left his mark on it. I hope you’ve enjoyed this short stroll along its prom and streets, shared for Jo’s Monday Walks.
I last visited Brighton in October 2021, when all these photos were taken